Team India is all geared up to kick off their ICC World Cup 2019 campaign against South Africa in Southampton’s Rose Bowl Stadium on Wednesday. Leading his side against an injury-hit Proteas, Virat Kohli will be cautious about how he deals his opponents, who despite losing their first two games, can make a strong comeback against any team on a given day.
The ‘Men in Blue’ would look to hit the Faf Du Plessis-led side where it hurts the most – their bowling. In their previous two matches so far in the tournament, South African bowlers have conceded mammoth scores of above-300 and to make the matter worse, two of their strike bowlers will not be taking the field. Lungi Ngidi, who suffered a left hamstring injury during the Bangladesh game, will not be available for selection against India. While, Dale Steyn has also been ruled out of this year’s mega event, shattering the paceman’s dream to win the World Cup for his nation.
The Proteas batsmen have also failed to make a mark in this tournament so far and, given the lethal bowling attack that team India possess, it will be a stiff challenge for them.
The Indian captain can never be left out of the game and has always cherished performing in the biggest of the stages. In the two World Cup tournaments that he has played in, Kohli has hit a century in the opening matches of both the tournament. Apart from that, his unique ability to score runs in any condition has made him the player he is today. In the warm-up games, though he has failed to notch up a big score, the way he middled most of the balls must have given him the required confidence to start this year’s mega event.
The number one ODI bowler in the world right now, Jasprit Bumrah’s performance would be key in deciding India’s fate. How the teams perform in the death overs, both with the bat and the ball, would be the deciding factor in this year’s World Cup and Bumrah, often termed the master in death overs, could well be India’s main man this time with the ball.
Nostalgia had struck every Indian cricket fan when Dhoni scored the century against Bangladesh. The 37-year-old veteran wicket-keeper, who led India to a World Cup victory in 2011, will be the man to lead India’s middle order. With him batting at number six or seven, India would always stand a chance to chase any score or put up a good total.
The 24-year-old pacer who bowls both in-swingers and out-swingers with equal intensity has somehow failed to perform the way he was expected. However, the pace prodigy can never be left out of the contention and it will just take him a good over or two of fast bowling to get his form back. How he performs in the tournament will be key for South Africa.
Faf du Plessis
The South African skipper and their mainstay in batting, Du Plessis is the player the team bank upon the most. He was the highest run-scorer for his team with a gritty 62 during their defeat against Bangladesh, but it was not enough for them to win the game. He knows for his team to have a good run in England he will have to score runs and that is what should influence him.