Hosts India face South Africa in Kolkata on Sunday fresh from the news that all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup.
The 30-year-old damaged his left ankle while trying to stop a shot with his foot off his own bowling during India's seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in Pune on October 19. He subsequently missed matches against England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. It has now been confirmed his tournament is over.
“Tough to digest the fact that I will miss out on the remaining part of the World Cup,” Pandya posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I'll be with the team, in spirit, cheering them on every ball of every game.
“Thanks for all the wishes, the love, and the support has been incredible. This team is special and I'm sure we'll make everyone proud.”
Pandya's injury, however, has paved the way for Mohammed Shami's return to the side, with the paceman having since taken 14 wickets in three matches at a stunning average of 6.71.
Prasidh Krishna, who has appeared in just 19 white-ball internationals for India, will now take Pandya's place in a 15-man squad.
But the 27-year-old fast-medium bowler will do well to break into a searing India pace attack of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Shami.
Sunday's showdown pits table-topping India against second-placed South Africa, whose only loss was a shock upset against the Netherlands. Apart from that, they have won six games and done so in brutal fashion, notching up four scores of 350-plus.
Quinton de Kock leads Virat Kohli in the run-scoring charts with 545 runs in seven games. The middle order has also contributed enormously with Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen all posting explosive hundreds. It's a batting line-up that likes to dominate overs 11-40 and then steps on the gas in the second powerplay.
“In these batting friendly conditions, these days, if you don’t take wickets, guys will score big against you,” said Van der Dussen. “And for us, as a top-order, it’s finding that balance between being attacking and scoring runs … as also setting the base up for the middle order to come in.”
The South Africans have undoubtedly been the stars of the tournament with the bat, and in Kolkata, the fascinating spectacle of them taking on India's tournament leading attack will no doubt provide a few markers with both teams heading for the semi-finals.