Tuesday, June 18, 2013

england vs south africa semi final icc champions trophy england 2013 analysis | head to head eng vs sri | Alastair Cook vs Dale Steyn | AB de Villiers vs James Anderson | Ian Bell vs Ryan McLaren | Hashim Amla vs Tim Bresnan

After a rainy and unpredictable group stage of the ICC Champions Trophy over a week's time, the final four have eased through to the playoffs stage with England up in arms against South Africa in the first semifinal on Wednesday. While England came across more than convincing with their performance in Group A, South Africa have diligently worked their way through Group B to make the semifinals cut.

Alastair Cook's men topped Group A with two wins and a loss out of three matches they played in the group stage of the tournament. On the other hand, the chokers - as some might call South Africa - are placed on the second spot in Group B behind India, with one win, one loss and a tie in the tournament.
From left: Dale Steyn and Ravi Bopara

For both England and South Africa, their respective skippers have been leading from the front for their teams in the tournament. On one hand, where Cook has been the most successful batsman for England with 153 runs in three matches, the South African skipper AB de Villiers has been majestic with 138 runs in three matches for the Proteas.

In the bowling department, England have thrived with the exceptional services of their bowling spearhead James Anderson in the Champions Trophy. The England seamer has scalped eight wickets in three matches with 3/30 as his best figures in the tournament.

The South African all-rounder Ryan McLaren is not far behind his English counterpart with eight wickets in three matches with 4/19 as his best bowling figures for the Proteas. But, with the return of their pace spearhead Dale Steyn into the squad, AB de Villiers' men pose a serious threat to the hosts.

Apart from Steyn, South Africa also have the likes of medium-pacer Ryan McLaren, who was destructive against Pakistan with a four-wicket haul, Chris Morris, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and left-arm spinner Robin Peterson, which makes it a potent bowling outfit.

With South Africa trying to get rid of their 'chokers' tag against the mighty English squad - who are out to reinforce their dominance in world cricket, the first semifinal is shaping into one of the most thrilling encounters in the tournament.

Road to semifinal(teams):

England: Alastair Cook's men began their Champions Trophy campaign with a bang after defeating their arch-rivals Australia in the opening game of the tournament. But, the hosts lost their way to Sri Lanka before thrashing New Zealand in their last game of the tournament's group stage.

South Africa: The Proteas witnessed a mixed outing in the group stage of the tournament. They lost their opening game to India before getting the better of Pakistan, while their last game against the West Indies ended in a tie.

Key head-to-head battles to watch out for:

Alastair Cook vs Dale Steyn: The Proteas boast a lethal weapon in their bowling spearhead Dale Steyn against their English counterparts in the semifinal. While England look steady with their skipper coming good for the team in the tournament so far. With over 150 runs in the tournament, Cook brings in vast experience and recently found his form for England. It'll be South Africa's Steyn-gun against England's quality leader as the two cricket giants lock horn for a place in the finals.

AB de Villiers vs James Anderson: England bowlers have made good use of their home conditions to threaten other teams in the tournament. But, the crowned jewel for the hosts happens to be their pace spearhead James Anderson - who scalped eight wickets in three matches of the group stage. On the other hand, the South African skipper AB de Villiers has been the backbone of the team's batting with 138 runs in three matches with a strike-rate of over 100. England's best bowler up against South Africa's best batsman will undoubtedly be one of the key battles in the upcoming semifinal.

Ian Bell vs Ryan McLaren: England have looked threatening throughout the group stage with Ian Bell firing all guns early in the batting order. The ringh-hander has slammed 121 runs in three matches with a match-winning knock of 91 runs in their opening match against Australia. On the other hand, the South African all-rounder Ryan McLaren has been more than handy with both bat and the bowl. McLaren is South Africa's highest wicket-taker in the tournament with eight wickets in three matches and also scored a blistering fifty against India. It'll be a test of character for Ryan McLaren as the Proteas might need his services to get the better of Ian Bell against England in the semifinal.

Hashim Amla vs Tim Bresnan: One of the most prolific batsmen in one-day cricket, Hashim Amla has been busy scoring nothing but runs for the Proteas. With 126 runs in three matches, Amla is the second-highest run-scorer for South Africa behind his skipper in the tournament. Though he will be up against the quality bowling attack against England, Amla's biggest test will be against Tim Bresnan who has been soaring quietly under the shadow of Anderson and Broad. The right-arm bowler has been lethal with his seam variations early in the innings throughout the tournament.

David Miller vs Joe Root: In what appears to be one the most exciting battles in the upcoming semifinal, South Africa's slambang left-hander will be up against the off-spin of England's wonderkid Joe Root. With the ability to strike at will and go over the distance, David Miller has made a name for himself as a prolific finisher for the Proteas. His knock of 38 runs off 40 balls at the death overs helped South Africa get the better of West Indies earlier in the tournament. As Graeme Swann remains doubtful for the semifinal, Alastair Cook might seek refuge in Joe Root's off-spinners to slow the game down against Proteas.