After the long wait, India finally kickstart the World Cup campaign in Southampton against South Africa. While Indian players were busy with net practice and paintball, South Africa are already on the verge of getting knocked out of the tournament after losing both their opening games.
Indian team will be well rested and hopeful of starting the tournament with a bang against a beleaguered South African side. As always, the side will be looking at their top 3 batsmen to do the bulk of the scoring. In Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli, India has the most formidable top order in the world and they will be looking to cash in against a weakened South African bowling attack.
Rohit and Dhawan didn’t manage to score too many runs during the warm-up games and India will be hoping they manage to find their form as the tournament begins. KL Rahul looks to have secured the Number 4 spot after a fine century in the warm-ups, and Dhoni and Pandya also look to be in excellent touch. Kedar Jadhav is back to full fitness as well and should feature at Number 6 in the batting order.
Indian bowling attack is arguably the best in the tournament and irrespective of the pitch, they will be a real handful for South African batsmen. In Bumrah, they have the World’s Number 1 bowler with Kuldeep and Chahal also featuring in Top 10 ODI bowlers in the world. Excellent recent form of Shami would mean that he will be the 2nd seamer with Bhuvi on the bench. Pandya and Jadhav will provide the 5th bowler quota to complete the set.
While India look like a very settled side, South Africans are all over the place at the moment. Injuries to Steyn and Ngidi mean their bowling resources are totally stretched at this point and the pressure will be on the shoulders of Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir, their 2 senior bowlers still left standing. Hashim Amla should be back for this game after missing the loss against Bangladesh with a concussion. If South Africa lose today, they will need to win each one of their remaining games to be sure of a spot in the semi-finals.
India- Virat Kohli
The best batsman in the world will be looking to stamp his authority on the tournament right at the beginning. After a forgettable IPL (yet another one) with RCB, Kohli will be keen to get back into the Indian colours and continue his staggering form. His battle with Rabada promises to be one of the most exciting face-offs of the tournament.
South Africa- Quinton de Kock
South Africa stumbled in both their chases of 300+ in the tournament as the middle order couldn’t keep up with the required rate. They will be looking for someone from the top order to bat through the innings and Quinton de Kock is that man. He looked in excellent form against England but his wicket at a crucial stage handed over the advantage to England. He has a great record against India, average of 64 with a strike rate in excess of 92, and he will know that he needs to score a big one today.
Head to Head:
ODIs: Played 83, South Africa won 46, India 34, No result in 3
World Cup: Played 4, South Africa 3, India 1
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