A look at India’s opponents in ICC World Cup 2019: South Africa

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India will play their first match of the ICC Cricket World Cup against South Africa. Here is a brief overview of their opponents, match details and other key factors that may influence the match.

Venue: The Rose Bowl, Southampton

Date: 5 June, 2019
Time: 3:00 PM IST

Squad: Faf du Plessis(c), Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, JP Duminy, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorious, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Chris Morris, I Tahir, T Shamsi

Team overview: South Africa have never succeeded to win the World Title despite having the potential and players capable of delivering the goods on numerous occasions. 2015 was their best chance of laying their hands on their maiden World Cup but they bottled it when they lost to New Zealand in the semifinals. They have a good side this time too. So, they would be eager to put on a strong show.

They have a strong bowling unit consisting of rampaging pacers like Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi, and quality spinners like Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi. This bowling attack is capable of taking all 10 wickets on any day. Add to that, the skills of their seam bowling all-rounders Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius, and the bowling looks even stronger.

Their batting unit, however, has had their share of problems against India’s spinners in the past and that will be a major concern once again. Only Faf du Plessis has shown the ability to handle spin well. The likes of JP Duminy and David Miller have a tough time reading the spinners. The poor form of Hashim Amla, their most experienced batsman, and the inexperience of Aiden Markram at No 3 will be a major factor as well. They will be able to put on a strong show against a quality side like India only if they can overcome all of these issues.

Major threats to India: An in-form Quinton de Kock and the consistent Faf du Plessis, having averages of 64.50 and 59.81 against India respectively, are the major headaches for India. They will need to nullify the strengths of these two batsmen in order to win the battle. Bowling spin early to De Kock is one of the solutions. He has his share of troubles against spinners turning it away from him. So, Kuldeep Yadav can come in as a very good option against him up front. For Du Plessis, however, India will need to formulate plans of tying him down. He is a technically sound batsman who doesn’t give away too many things. The only way to dismiss him is to stop the singles and force him to go for big shots. All it will require to send him back to the pavilion is one badly timed lofted shot.

Predicted Outcome: Although South Africa have the potential to challenge India, beating them is a completely different thing. Unless the Proteas come up with something really outstanding, India should be able to win this battle easily.

Written by; Prasenjit Dey

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