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T20 World Cup: Rohit Sharma & Co. seeking to end 11-year drought

Bridgetown (Barbados), June 29 2024-

Team India, in its third ICC final in the last 12 months, are seeking to end their 11-year drought of a big title and aim to win the Men’s T20 World Cup they last won in the inaugural edition in 2007, where current skipper Rohit Sharma played under MS Dhoni’s leadership.

On the other hand, South Africa are into a men’s ICC World Cup final for the first time – after seven previous efforts ended in defeats.

Both India and South Africa have made it to the title clash as the unbeaten teams in very contrasting styles – the Rohit Sharma-led side came out on top in tough New York pitches and adapted very well to triumph in its matches in the Caribbean so far, latest of it being a comprehensive 68-run win over defending champions England.

India’s campaign has been very much like their awe-inspiring and dominating run in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, and would be keen to cross the last hurdle which they failed to go past against Australia in Ahmedabad when they play in their third T20 World Cup final. A title win for India will also serve as a fitting farewell to Rahul Dravid’s time as the head coach.

The Proteas, led by Aiden Markram & Co, have got luck on their way to be victorious in tight matches amidst challenging conditions in New York, as well as in the Caribbean, and then blew away a spirited Afghanistan in Trinidad. For South Africa, who won the 1998 ICC Knock-Out title (then called as Champions Trophy), Saturday is the perfect time for them to give their country the joy of winning the silverware.

For India, captain Rohit Sharma has been literally leading the charge from the front. After the ten-wicket annihilation at the hands of England in the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final at Adelaide, Rohit has led a transformation for India – changing his batting approach to a more attacking version and being selfless for the team’s cause, with no care given to milestones.

When it mattered the most, Rohit launched a sensational takedown of Australia in the Super Eights game at St Lucia, with the standout being taking 29 runs off Mitchell Starc. Against England on a tacky pitch in Guyana, Rohit mixed his aggressive play with cautiousness to make an important 57 and be one half of a crucial 73-run stand with Suryakumar Yadav.

Despite Virat Kohli and Shivam Dube having middling returns, Suryakumar, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, along with useful runs from Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel have given solid support to Rohit in India making above-par totals and chasing whenever pushed into it. In terms of bowling, India have clicked as pacers and spinners are doing their jobs with perfection.

Meanwhile, South Africa have been helped by various individuals clicking at the right time to find themselves in the title clash. Reeza Hendricks has struggled for form at the top, but his unbeaten knock in the semi-final and hitting winning runs against Afghanistan should boost his confidence.

Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock will be aiming to come good in the final, and use his extensive CPL experience at Barbados, a venue where South Africa will be playing a game in this T20 World Cup for the first time.

Their dynamic middle order of Markram, Tristan Stubbs and Heinrich Klaasen can play pace and spin very, followed by the hugely experienced David Miller present to apply finishing touches to the batting innings. Their match-up against Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja will make for a riveting watch in the final.

Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortje have put in fiery performances for South Africa on the fast-bowling front, using their tall heights and high release points to outclass batters. Spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi can be more than handful if consistent bounce is found in abundance in Barbados.

For all the new-found weather geeks, there is considerable rain threat for the final match day, as well as on the reserve day. No team has ever won a Men’s T20 World Cup as an unbeaten side, which means India and South Africa have a golden chance to rewrite history. Who will achieve their eventual date with destiny of winning the title, it will be made crystal clear by the end of this weekend.

Match starts at 8pm IST on Star Sports (TV) and Disney+ Hotstar (Mobile)

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

South Africa: Aiden Markram (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Tristan Stubbs, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Ottniel Baartman, Bjorn Fortuin, Ryan Rickelton and Gerald Coetzee. (Agency)

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