It’s been a week since the 2019 World Cup started and joint-favourites India begin their campaign against South Africa in Southampton on Wednesday.
India will be hoping to begin their campaign on a high and they start as favourites against battered and depleted South Africa who have already lost two in two in World Cup 2019.
India are relatively fresh, considering their big boys of world cricket had close to 2 weeks of rest after Indian Premier League 2019.
South Africa need to step up but as captain Faf du Plessis has put it, the Proteas have quite a lot of problems, predominantly injury concerns as they are in desperate need to get their campaign back on track.
South Africa warmed up well to World Cup 2019, posting 338 vs Sri Lanka and beating the former champions by 87 runs in their first warm-up. However, Faf du Plessis’ men have had a horror start to their tournament proper.
South Africa were thrashed by 104 runs in the World Cup 2019 opener by England. The hosts posted 311/8 and skittled the Proteas out for 207 after some of their star batsmen, including du Plessis, Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram failed with the bat.
On Sunday, South Africa were handed a shock defeat by Bangladesh who took their weakened bowling attack to the cleaners, posting 330 on the board. South Africa lost the match by 21 runs, thereby registering their worst-ever start to a World Cup campaign.
India, on the other hand, haven’t played a lot of ODI cricket in the lead-up to the World Cup. India had lost an ODI series 3-2 to Australia at home before IPL 2019. In the warm-ups, India thrashed Bangladesh 95 runs after hundreds from KL Rahul and MS Dhoni.
Pitch prediction – The Ageas Bowl, Southampton
734 runs were scored when England hosted Pakistan in an ODI game last month. The Ageas Bowl in Southampton has been a batting paradise in the recent past but batsmen need to be wary of overcast conditions predicted for Wednesday.
A green pitch is not going to be on offer for India vs South Africa but the surface had been under the covers on the eve of the big clash. Expect both teams to pack their teams with a few seamers for the Southampton match.
India’s top-order is vulnerable against swing bowling in overcast conditions but expect them to play safe cricket through the period and post a 300-plus total on Wednesday if they are sent in to bat. South Africa have lost Dale Steyn to an injury and will be without Lungi Ngidi for Wednesday’s clash after the pacer suffered a hamstring strain.
The Proteas certainly lack the firepower to overcome India in the latter’s opening game but Pakistan taught us the other day that the “favourite” tag counts for nothing in World Cups.
Predicted playing XIs – India vs South Africa
While South Africa have been battered by injury concerns, India’s injury issues seem to be getting better. Kedar Jadhav seems to be fit and is likely to return to the playing XI to add that bit of balance and flexibility Virat Kohli loves.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Dwayne Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir.