South Africa chose to bowl in the opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 against England at The Oval. Normally, the bowling team would begin the over by employing a pace bowler to exploit the early morning moisture and the swing. However, Faf du Plessis employed a different tactic altogether and showed his versatility. The Proteas skipper employed Imran Tahir as the opening bowler and he created history. In the 44-year history of the ICC Cricket World Cup, Tahir became the first spinner to deliver the first ball of a World Cup. (GET LIVE CRICKET UPDATES OF ENGLAND vs SOUTH AFRICA WORLD CUP MATCH HERE)
For South Africa, it reaped an award. In the second ball of the first over, Tahir was bowling to Jonny Bairstow and he pitched the ball on a good length on off stump and it spun away, Bairstow prodded forward and looked to defend but the ball took the outside edge. Quinton de Kock took the catch and he set off on his trademark celebrations as Bairstow departed for a golden duck. It was a big blow for England as Bairstow was in fine form during the 2019 IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The move by du Plessis drew comparisons with Martin Crowe and his tactic of making New Zealand offspinner Dipak Patel open the bowling in the matches during the 1992 Cricket World Cup. In the first game against Australia at Auckland, Patel opened the bowling and it confounded Australia as they lost their opening game.
England and South Africa will start off the tournament in the opening game at The Oval. For England, this will not be the first time where they will feature in the opening game of the Cricket World Cup. For South Africa, this will only be their second time that they have featured in the opening game of this quadrennial event. While England has made it to the World Cup finals three times, South Africa has been knocked out in the semi-final stage four times. Both teams have never won the World Cup title and this gives them the perfect opportunity to break the jinx. England and South Africa have clashed in the World Cup six times.