Preview – Mighty England hold a slight edge over South Africa in first World Cup encounter
The first match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will begin with a humdinger – a clash between the two top sides in ODI cricket as England and South Africa face off at the Kennington Oval.
It will be the perfect start to this much-awaited tournament as a thrilling contest will set things up correctly for the remainder of the championship.
Hosts England are one of the favorites of the tournament and will be confident of continuing their dominating ODI form. South Africa, meanwhile, would be looking to thwart England and make a statement right at the start of the event.
England has possibly one of the strongest and balanced batting units in the competition. In Joe Root, captain Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, and Moeen Ali, England’s batting not only looks healthy but dangerous as well. This batting unit has been scoring and chasing down scores over 300 with ease. And it will take something special to stop their charge.
The only issue with this England side is their bowling, which isn’t as penetrative and is known to leak runs. Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Tom Curran, David Willey, and Adil Rashid form the crux of England’s bowling unit. They have been guilty of giving away too many runs in the recent past and not being able to contain the opposition. They will have to be at their best against the Proteas.
South Africa, meanwhile, are in good ODI form too. They have won back-to-back ODI series at home against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and would be confident for this game. Captain Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, David Miller, and JP Duminy would have to do the bulk of the scoring for South Africa.
It is, however, South Africa’s bowling which gives them the edge. If England has the best batting line up, the Proteas have the best fast bowling unit in the World Cup by some distance. Young fast bowler Kagiso Rabada has been an absolute sensation these past few years and would be the one to watch out for. The return of Dale Steyn would bolster South Africa’s bowling as well. Then there is the dependable seamer Lungi Ngidi to bowl in the middle overs. The leg-spin of Imran Tahir, who was highest wicket-taker in the recently concluded IPL 2019, can exploit England’s weakness against spin.
Interestingly, in the last 5 ODIs between the two sides, South Africa has come on the top three times.
Pitch conditions and England vs South Africa Prediction:
While the average 1st innings score at Kennington Oval is 247, one should expect a high-scoring encounter. The pitches all over England have become more batting friendly in the recent past, and this ground is no different. A total of 398/5 – the highest score by a team batting first at the venue – was amassed by New Zealand here in 2015. And in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Sri Lanka had chased down India’s total of 322 inside 49 overs.
This should be a high-scoring game, and the team batting first can achieve a total of more than 320. Given England’s batting might and their familiarity with the condition, they start as favorites for the clash.