Preview – In the battle of equals, India’s bowling will hold the edge over South Africa
Team India’s first assignment in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will be against the strong South African side at The Rose Bowl, Southampton. This would be a battle of equals as India, and South Africa are ranked No.2 and No. 3 on the ICC ODI Rankings.
Traditionally, South Africa has had the edge over India in ODI cricket. However, the current Team India, under Virat Kohli’s leadership, is a different beast. In fact, in the last 5 ODIs between the two sides, India has won 4 games. And when the Men in Blue had toured South Africa for a 6-match ODI series, they won comprehensively 5-1.
India has an excellent batting unit and a well-balanced bowling side. The top three of India – Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli – are possibly the best in the world at the moment. Dhawan has an excellent record in England – 976 runs at an average of 65.06 – and in ICC tournaments and he will be eager to continue that form. In the 2015 World Cup match between the two teams, it was Dhawan’s scintillating 137 that helped India secure a win.
India’s middle-order is an issue, which will have the likes of Vijay Shankar and MS Dhoni who have struggled to move the pace along in the middle overs. That is something which South Africa’s pace bowlers can exploit. All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who will be India’s finisher, has been in terrific hitting form and can unleash his blitzkrieg on the Proteas.
India’s bowling, after a long time, is better than it’s batting. In Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, India has a steady pace attack which can exploit the conditions well. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav can choke the South African batsmen’s frailties against spin if the pitch grips a little.
South Africa has a decent batting unit and captain Faf Du Plessis (427 runs in last 10 ODIs), along with wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock (469 runs in last 8 ODIs) will be the ones to watch out for. Hashim Amla’s form is a concern and India would like to exploit that. Aiden Markram, JP Duminy and David Miller could make a difference too.
It is South Africa’s bowling though, which will be the biggest threat to India. Young pacer Kasigo Rabada is the best in the business right now, and he will have the fiery Dale Steyn for company. The leg-spin of Imran Tahir (11 wickets in last 7 ODIs) could be useful as well.
Pitch condition and South Africa vs India Prediction:
The pitch at Southampton has become batting friendly of late. And in the last ODI played here, England amassed 373-3 against Pakistan while the opposition went on to score 361-7 in their chase.
So we can expect a total of 315-plus by the team batting first. It will be an exciting clash of two strong ODI sides, and the one who will bowl better on this flat deck will emerge victoriously. By the looks of India’s bowling form and the variety it has, and South Africa’s inconsistent batting unit, India looks to have the upper hand and should clinch this clash.