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Two unstoppable forces India and South Africa set to meet in the final

After 4 weeks of enthralling T20 cricket, it all comes down to the final clash between two heavyweights of the tournament, India and South Africa. Both sides arrive at the biggest stage unbeaten, although India has been a much more dominant side in this tournament as compared to the Proteas. Aiden Markram has led South Africa breaking a historical jinx of not making it past the semi-final stage, and will now lead his side in its first-ever senior men’s ICC tournament final 

The last time India went unbeaten till the finals was not so long ago. It is not even a year since their hopes were demolished by Australia in the final of the 2023 ODI World Cup in Ahmedabad. Rohit Sharma’s men looked unstoppable then too, beating every single team in a one-sided contest, but it all collapsed upon them in the final. With this T20 World Cup probably being the last for many senior players, another choke in the final could be devastating. 

Higher stakes demand bigger players to show up. This is something we have seen a numerous time from India’s star-batter side Virat Kohli. However, this tournament has been no less than a nightmare for him. He has failed even to cross a score of 40 once and has been found playing one attacking stroke too many most of the time. A touch too attacking intent from him has caused his demise and perhaps the management would ask him to do what he does best, bat long. His opening partner and India’s skipper Rohit Sharma has been inspirational. Leading the charge himself, Rohit has found his best touch in the last two games after a slow start to the tournament. 

India has arguably the best bowling attack in this tournament. The inclusion of Kuldeep Yadav from the super-eights has worked wonders for them along with the ever-improving Axar Patel who has been picking wickets at crucial points consistently. Jasprit Bumrah has looked unplayable and has the baggage of hopes on his shoulder as India’s bowling attack comes up against a batting line-up that can be brutal, ruthless, and relentless.

One major concern for Markram would be the form of his opening batter Reeza Hendricks. Although he finished the semi-final agains Afghanistan chasing a nothing total, the batter has looked out of form for most of the tournament. This puts a huge pressure on Quinton de Kock, whose role is mostly to play aggressively, but if Hendricks manages to get out early once against, de Kock will have a decision to make about his intent. 

A hot and cold opening pair puts a big responsibility on the middle-order to deliver. Indian spinners Kuldeep and Axar have been on a roll, but South Africa have two very good players of spin Heinrich Klaasen and Tristan Stubbs to counter them. Captain Aiden Markam will have a huge role to play against his world-class Indian bowling attack and will surely have to put a price on his wicket and not throw it away. 

The final will be played at the Kensington Oval, a venue that has favored the fast bowlers in this World Cup with 58 wickets at an average of 20.22 and an economy rate of 7.88. Only once there has been a total of above 200 scored and the rest fit in a range between 109 and 181. 

The all-important game will be played on pitch No.4 which was used for the games between Namibia and Oman, and Scotland and England. There is a forecast of rain in the final but it does have a reserve day.