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    South Africa's Path to the Super Eights: A Test Against Nepal
South Africa's Path to the Super Eights: A Test Against Nepal
South Africa. Source: indianexpress.com

South Africa's Path to the Super Eights: A Test Against Nepal

In the Caribbean, it’s common to be drawn into lengthy cricket discussions, even by hotel staff as you head to your room. So, when South Africa's T20 World Cup team arrived in Kingstown, they weren't surprised to receive some local insights before even checking in. Rob Walter, the team’s coach, shared in a press conference that their bus driver at 3 am had mentioned a local belief: rough seas bring bounce and pace, while calm seas mean the pitch will spin. Walter highlighted the importance of adapting to the conditions to find a winning strategy.

South Africa has so far successfully navigated the unpredictable pitch and sluggish outfield in Nassau County, securing victories against Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, and Bangladesh. A win over Nepal at Arnos Vale on Saturday will see them advance to the Super Eights with a perfect record.

Standing in their way is Sandeep Lamichhane, Nepal's standout player, who has been absent from the tournament due to visa issues in the United States, where Nepal’s first two matches were held. Lamichhane's international absence since November, following his conviction and later acquittal for rape in Nepal, adds another layer of complexity to his return. The reason behind the visa denial by the US government remains undisclosed. However, his participation will be crucial for Nepal’s prospects in the match.

Despite their strong showing so far, anything less than a convincing win for South Africa would raise concerns about their readiness for the later stages of the tournament.

Match Details

Fixture: Nepal vs South Africa

Date: June 14

Time: 11:30 PM GMT, 7:30 PM Local, 1:30 AM SAST, 5:00 AM IST

Venue: Arnos Vale, St Vincent

Conditions Preview

Before this tournament, only two men’s T20Is had been played at Arnos Vale, and with newly relaid pitches, the conditions are largely unknown. However, the new floodlights are expected to be excellent, and weather forecasts suggest minimal chance of rain interference. This will be their first encounter.

Team Overview

Nepal

Sandeep Lamichhane’s first game of the tournament is expected to be a significant boost for the team.

Tactics & Matchups: Utilising Lamichhane and Dipendra Singh Airee could be key to exploiting South Africa's weaknesses.

Probable XI: Kushal Bhurtel, Aasif Sheikh (wk), Anil Sah, Rohit Paudel (c), Kushal Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee, Sompal Kami, Gulshan Jha, Sandeep Lamichhane, Karan KC, Abinash Bohara

South Africa

Having secured their Super Eights spot, Aiden Markram's side can play with more freedom.

Tactics & Matchups: South Africa’s powerful fast bowlers could dominate the Nepalese batsmen.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram (c), Tristan Stubbs, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ottneil Baartman

Key Facts

- The straight boundaries at Arnos Vale differ by over 10 meters in length.

- Last year, only three bowlers took more ODI wickets than Sandeep Lamichhane.

- Anrich Nortje needs three more wickets to become South Africa's top wicket-taker in T20 World Cups, surpassing Dale Steyn.

Quotes from the Camps

Monty Desai, reflecting on Nepal’s washed-out match against Sri Lanka in Lauderhill, commented on the team’s rigorous training and commitment, despite never having played South Africa before. He stressed focusing on controllable elements amidst the uncertainty.

Rob Walter expressed confidence in the South African squad’s belief and unity, highlighting their camaraderie and mutual support, presenting a strong team dynamic.

As the game approaches, South Africa aims to maintain their flawless run, while Nepal hopes to leverage Lamichhane’s return to create an upset and keep their tournament hopes alive.

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