An exciting T20 World Cup final sets India against a determined South Africa

When the formidable Indian squad, eager to break through its long title drought, takes against a South African side that has never experienced winning in the T20 World Cup final here on Saturday, it will be imperative to maintain emotional control.

India’s performance in the tournament is strikingly similar to their performance in their home ODI World Cup last year, when they easily advanced to the final before Australia outperformed them on the grand stage.

They have been by far the best team in the tournament and are undefeated here as well. Above all, they have an elusive trophy this time around and Australia, who has been through a lot, isn’t standing in their way.

South Africa enters the final with their own aspirations and goals, having only won once in ICC competitions—the Champions Trophy in 1998.

The Proteas, who have been called chokers for the majority of their international cricket career, will be eager to permanently dispel that negative reputation at Kensington Oval.

Following India’s crushing of England in the Guyana semifinal, the general opinion seems to be that Rohit Sharma and his team are the clear favourites.

Taking into account the composition of India’s team and the circumstances in the Caribbean, it is a reasonable observation. They would be expected to erase the pain of November 19, 2023, when Australia’s Pat Cummins silenced more than a lakh Ahmedabad supporters in the crucial final.

“I know India have had their issues in the ICC finals for a long time but I just don’t see South Africa posing a challenge. India have been the best team of the tournament so far and man to man South Africa are a weaker side,” a World Cup winning former captain told PTI on the flight from Guyana to Barbados.

It would also be the ideal farewell for departing coach Rahul Dravid, who is about to have an incredible final farewell as coach. Dravid was an extremely sad man in the Caribbean during the 2007 ODI World Cup when he captained India following the team’s early elimination.

A major factor in India’s final berth has been their ability to adjust to the competition’s conditions. They are in their first T20 World Cup final in ten years. Regarding its planning for the tournament, the team management has been quite transparent.

Prior to using Kuldeep Yadav as the winning pitcher on the spin-friendly surfaces in the Caribbean, they used three specialized pacers on the unproven wickets in New York.

India will undoubtedly use the same starting eleven, but it will be looking to two of its important players to perform well in the winner-take-all match.

Rohit, has shown the way to other batters in the side and his innings will hold massive importance in the final.

The captain would also like to see Shivam Dube excel in the high pressure game, having given middling returns in the tournament so far. His battles against spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi could make a big impact.

On the bowling front, India have nothing to worry about with both pacers and spinners performing their roles to perfection.

They only had one day to recover after coming here immediately following their match against England in the semi-final, as has been the case since the Super 8s campaign began at this exact location.

However, South Africa received an additional day before the final and will begin training on Friday.

With a decisive victory against Afghanistan in Trinidad, the Proteas are sniffing victory. Unlike India, however, they have nothing to lose given they have never been in a World Cup final.
They would be looking for runs from Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks, who open the innings together. De Kock, in particular, can put a lot of pressure on the opposition when he’s playing well. Super 8s captain Aiden Markram is set for a huge one, but he was unable to generate much of an impact against the stronger teams.

One of the most potent hitters in the game, Heinrich Klaasen, needs runs too, and in order to get them, he will have to deal with the spin threat throughout the middle overs.

Although South Africa’s pace department has been on fire, it’s unclear how much of an influence this will have in this day game. Although Shamsi and Maharaj are potent weapons, Indian hitters won’t be afraid of them.

There is a high chance of rain on Saturday but the ICC has kept a reserve day for the all-important fixture.

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