With the semifinal slot up for grabs, South Africa and the West Indies would be locked in what is a virtual quarterfinal when they take on each other in their last Group B match of the ICC Champions Trophy here on Friday.
South Africa lost its opening game to India before getting the better of Pakistan, results which are similar to what the West Indies has managed so far in the tournament.
India is already through to the semifinals after two wins out of two, while Pakistan is out of contention.
That leaves the South Africans and the West Indies locked in a battle for the second semifinal spot.
Steyn might play
South Africa has got a shot in the arm ahead of the crucial match with pacer Dale Steyn returning to fitness. He bowled in the nets on Wednesday without any discomfort after being laid low by a side strain.
“Dale is progressing quite well. He came through his net session today without any discomfort,” Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa’s team manager, who is also a doctor, said on Wednesday.
“We will watch him overnight to see if he wakes up with any stiffness. If he comes through tomorrow’s practice then he should be available.”
As far as the batting prowess goes, both teams seem evenly matched even though the Chris Gayle factor could tilt the scales in the West Indies’ favour if the swashbuckler comes up with one of his hurricane knocks on Friday.
For South Africa, Hashim Amla’s form remains crucial as he would be expected to play the sheet-anchor role. The likes of A.B. de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy are the game-changers, who can accelerate on a solid start.
The West Indian batting also features quite a few aggressors apart from Gayle, who are yet to score big in the ongoing edition despite being the top run-getter in the overall Champions Trophy stats.
Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo are two other big-hitters who would be expected to come good.
On the bowling front, South Africa has the distinct edge, especially if Steyn returns to the squad on Friday.
For the West Indies, spinner Sunil Narine remains a crucial cog and he proved his worth yet again when he picked up a couple of wickets against India, albeit in a losing cause in its previous match.
South Africans, on the other hand, have a strong bowling line-up, which stifled Pakistan in their previous game.
Medium-pacer Ryan McLaren was especially destructive with a four-wicket haul.
The squads (from):
South Africa: A.B. de Villiers (capt.), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (capt.), Denesh Ramdin, Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Devon Smith.