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South Africa, India eye T20 World Cup semi-finals

South Africa and India will look to seal places in the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals with regulation wins over cricketing minnows as the Super 12 phase wraps up with a flurry of matches on Sunday.

South Africa suffered their first major setback with a 33-run defeat to Pakistan in Sydney on Thursday but Temba Bavuma’s team will aim to restore normal service against the already-eliminated Netherlands in the early match at Adelaide Oval.

A win would ensure South Africa finish in the top two of Group 2 and advance to next week’s semis, but defeat would see them miss the knockout rounds for a third T20 World Cup in succession while opening the door for Pakistan and Bangladesh.

India, who lead the group with six points, one ahead of the Proteas, will be strong favourites to fend off Zimbabwe in the evening match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and sew up top spot.

“We need to be as clinical as possible,” all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin told reporters on Saturday.

“We know no team is a brush-over … We can’t go in there and expect them to crumble.”

Third-placed Pakistan play fourth-placed Bangladesh in the second leg of the Adelaide Oval double-header and will be cheering on the Netherlands before taking the field.

With both Asian sides on four points, one less than South Africa, the winner will reach the semi-finals if the Proteas slip up.

However, if South Africa advance, only Pakistan would likely still be in contention given Bangladesh’s net run rate (-1.276) is well behind India’s (+0.73).

With victories in their last eight completed T20 matches against Bangladesh, Pakistan will be expected to keep the semi-final race alive until at least the final match and pray Zimbabwe can do the unthinkable against Rohit Sharma’s India.

“You don’t need any motivation, whether it’s the World Cup or not,” said Pakistan batsman Shan Masood.

“Just playing for your country, putting that shirt on, I think for every individual in this camp, it means a lot.”

Zimbabwe played giant-killer by beating Pakistan in their Super 12 clash but crashed out of the tournament with a deflating defeat to the Netherlands.

Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine said the chance to take the wicket of India’s talismanic batsman Virat Kohli should be motivation enough for his bowlers.

“How often do you get the opportunity to put Virat Kohli in your pocket?” he asked.

“I’m pretty sure that our fast bowlers will be raring to go come tomorrow.

“Obviously with the win against Pakistan, it’s given us a huge amount of belief that we can beat any side in the tournament.

“I don’t think that will change going into tomorrow’s game.”

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