June 18, 2013
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The line-up for the Champions Trophy semi finals is complete. England face South Africa at The Oval tomorrow. A day later, India take on Sri Lanka in Cardiff. West Indies and New Zealand have performed with credit but are on their way home, while disappointing Pakistan and Australia are eliminated with not a single victory between them. Rain, which has disrupted the group stages, seems to have cleared and forecasters are confident that the remaining matches can proceed without interruption. The final is to be played at Edgbaston on 23 June.
With three victories, India have been the most impressive team so far. Shikhar Dhawan, the tournament’s leading run scorer with two centuries to his name, and the rest of the top order have been in outstanding form. Their spin attack, led by Ravindra Jadeja, who has taken nine wicket at less than four runs an over, looks most suitable to exploit the dry pitches that we have seen. Their only concern is lack of practice for the middle order, largely confined thus far to watching from the pavilion.
South Africa have bounced back to form after suffering at the hands of India in the opening encounter. The return to fitness of Dale Steyn has more than made up for the loss to injury of Morne Morkel, while old hands Hashim Amla and skipper AB de Villiers have made sizeable contributions with the bat. The suspicion remains, however, that they will only prosper if at least two of these three big guns are firing.
Hosts England, in the eye of a ball tampering storm and under fire from the local media about the tempo of their batting, have emerged as Group A winners. With two victories, they have looked a professional outfit, if occasionally vulnerable when bowling in benign conditions. One feels that hundreds, rather than cameos, from the batsmen are needed from now on. As for the bowlers, Jimmy Anderson is the most likely match winner.
Old warhorses Lasith Malinga, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have steered Sri Lanka to two wins after an uncertain start. Batting, bowling and fielding with passion, backed up by enthusiastic crowd support, suggests that they have every chance of upsetting the odds and reaching the final for the third successive time in a major world competition.
Match 9 result: South Africa 230 for 6 in 31 overs (Ingram 73, Dwayne Bravo 2-43) tied with West Indies 190 for 6 in 26.1 overs (D/L method)
Match 10 result: Pakistan 165 (Shafiq 41, Bhuvneshwar 2-19) lost to India 102 for 2 (Dhawan 48) by 8 wickets (D/L method)
Match 11 result: England 169 (Cook 64, Mills 4-30, McClenaghan 3-36) beat New Zealand 159 for 8 (Williamson 67, Anderson 3-32) by 10 runs.
Match 12 result: Sri Lanka 253 for 8 (Jayawardene 84*, Thirimanne 57, Johnson 3-48) beat Australia 233 (Voges 49, Kulasekara 3-42) by 20 runs.
The Scoop 18/06/13