Finally, the time has come. They dominated in South Africa. They stumbled in England. Created history in Australia and New Zealand. They were shocked by Australia at home. Their warm-up games were also mixed. Virat Kohli and the Indian cricket team’s two-year journey of domination and mixed results have all culminated in their first ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 encounter at Southampton and their opponents will be South Africa, a team who are low on confidence after losing to England and Bangladesh. For Kohli and the Indian cricket team, the clash at the Rose Bowl gives them a chance to make South Africa’s path thorny and dent their morale even further. Kohli, with the backing of MS Dhoni and a settled core of bowlers and batsmen, will be aiming to make a big statement in Southampton.
On paper, India looks settled on paper. They have a settled team who have match-winners in both the batting and the bowling department. They have gotten rest and will be fresh as they approach the game against the Proteas, who will be carrying the baggage of two losses. On the other hand, South Africa are battling injury concerns in addition to low confidence with Lungi Ngidi ruled out and Dale Steyn ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury. India also suffered some injuries during practice, with Vijay Shankar and Kohli getting hit on the forearm and thumb but the BCCI medical staff have ensured that they are in good touch.
For Faf du Plessis’ side, a loss against India will deepen their crisis but they can take a leaf out of Pakistan’s book. Sarfaraz Ahmed’s team were blown away by the West Indies but they clicked as a unit against the favourites England to win by 14 runs. A loss for India will not be an ideal beginning for Kohli in a tournament where momentum will play a crucial role due to the round-robin format.
India is expected to field two spinners and KL Rahul might be their designated number four. With Lungi Ngidi out for the match due to a hamstring injury, Dale Steyn might be expected to make a comeback. Hashim Amla might come back after missing the Bangladesh game due to a concussion.
India (Playing XI): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
South Africa (Playing XI): Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, JP Duminy, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Dwaine Pretorius, Imran Tahir
Who will win?
When the balance of the side and confidence are considered, India holds the upper hand. South Africa is battling injuries and losing two games has dented their confidence.
Weather and pitch
Southampton received rain on Tuesday but conditions on match day are expected to be fine with a little bit of cloud. The pitch in Southampton is expected to be good for batting.
In four World Cup encounters, South Africa have won three while India has won. South Africa won the first three encounters in 1992, 1999 and 2011 while India broke their jinx by winning the 2015 match in Melbourne by 130 runs. In the 1999 World Cup encounter in Brighton, South Africa won by four wickets thanks to Jacques Kallis' 96 which trumped Sourav Ganguly's 97 and Rahul Dravid's 54.
Stadium and timings
The match will be played at The Rose Bowl in Southampton and the match will begin at 3:00 PM IST.