UAE last test run for South Africa
Thursday, March 12
Start time 1400 local (0100 GMT)
South Africa are as far away from pressure as they can get and that may be just what they want as they build up to the quarterfinals. They are already talking about being "three games away from taking the trophy home," as AB de Villiers put it, which is a kinder way of saying the match against the UAE is little more than opportunity to practice.
Batting second is the area South Africa need to do the most work on, but if they are not given the choice, they can only treat the game as an exercise in getting players in form. Quinton de Kock needs runs at the top while Rilee Rossouw and Farhaan Behardien may get the chance to challenge for a spot in the knockout XI and Aaron Phangiso may have a first, and likely only, outing at the tournament.
South Africa will not want to relax too much. UAE competed admirably in the first two games of the tournament before being blown away by two big teams and will be keen to show they can perform better against top-tier sides. They have a batting line-up that has shown the ability to guts it out and an attack that relies more on discipline than aggression. If they can combine the two, they have the makings of a competitive force.
(last five matches, most recent first)
South Africa: LWWLW
In the spotlight
Although South Africa's major issue is in their ability to chase under pressure, the fifth bowler has brought the balance of their side under scrutiny. De Villiers admitted it's a "difficult decision" to choose between an extra batsman and extra bowler, and that South Africa don't have a foolproof answer yet. JP Duminy will carry most of the load with the rest to be shared between Behardien or Wayne Parnell and de Villiers himself. They will want to go for less than the 77 runs they conceded against Pakistan.
After every team had played four matches, Shaiman Anwar was the leading run-scorer of the tournament. He has since been usurped by two members of the team he will play against, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers. His captain Mohammad Tauqir said he was "looking forward to being on top again." As an aggressive middle-order hitter, Anwar's battle will come against South Africa's ability to squeeze in that period.
With South Africa still waiting on news on of Vernon Philander's fitness, they were hit by a second injury concern, which could affect their balance further. Faf du Plessis' long-standing lower-back concern has flared up again which may mean Rossouw has to be deployed after, and not in place of, de Kock. If du Plessis is unavailable, that will also create room for one of Behardien or Parnell at No.7 with Philander and Kyle Abbott competing over No. 8. Phangiso may get a game in place of Imran Tahir, who has earned a rest.
South Africa (possible) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis/Rilee Rossouw, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 JP Duminy, 7 Farhaan Behardien/Wayne Parnell, 8 Vernon Philander/Kyle Abbott, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Aaron Phangiso
UAE have played the same XI in their last three matches and in the interests of consistency may not want to tinker with the team.
UAE (possible) 1 Amjad Ai, 2 Andri Berenger, 3 Krishna Chandran, 4 Khurram Khan, 5 Shaiman Anwar, 6 Swapnil Patel (wk), 7 Rohan Mustafa, 8 Amjad Javed, 9 Mohammad Naveed, 10 Mohammad Tauqir (capt), 11 Manjula Guruge
Pitch and conditions
The cake tin has seen the best of both worlds with swing assisting bowlers in its opening match, in which England were dismissed for 123, and runs aplenty in the following game, when Sri Lanka successfully chased down 310. There may be some movement but proper application could also see batsmen benefit. Morning drizzle is forecast but a light southerly breeze should see it clear for the afternoon and evening.
Stats and trivia
UAE and South Africa have played each other only once, at the 1996 World Cup. Gary Kirsten scored his career-best 188 in that game, which was a World Cup record for the highest individual score until it was broken by Chris Gayle's 215 at this tournament
Morne Morkel is South Africa's leading wicket-taker at the tournament so far, with 11 scalps. He is two behind chart-leaders Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
"A couple of guys need to get into form. I'd like to see a few players score some runs tomorrow. And bowling, it will be nice get one or two of the part-timers to get a few extra overs, because we might need that in the knockouts."
AB de Villiers outlines the areas South Africa want to work on against UAE
"We've had a few close games, one bad game against India, but overall a good learning experience for our team. We'd like to do well in the coming two games. We've got a few good cricketers who would like to prove a point."
Mohammad Tauqir hopes UAE will leave with their heads held high