India begin their Cricket World Cup campaign on Wednesday (5 June) as real contenders to take home the famous trophy for a third time against a, so-far, uninspired Proteas team.
The number two ranked India team came into the tournament with the most settled playing XI in world cricket with only the number four slot causing any contention. Lokesh Rahul’s hundred in the warm-up game against Bangladesh might have put that debate to bed but the men in blue also have Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar to fall back on.
Depending on the match situation we could see skipper Virat Kohli and former captain MS Dhoni float around the India order.
The Proteas were arguably the third best side in the world before the tournament but the World Cup curse still appears to have the men in green in its grip. The wheels have come off completely in the opening two games.
The defeat to England wasn’t a surprise but the Proteas inability to take the chase deep was disappointing. Against Bangladesh the all round performance of the team was abject. Senior batsmen failed to make the most of starts, the bowlers lost the plot and the fielding was honestly a bit rubbish.
To make matters worse Hashim Amla is in doubt to start the game because of a blow to the head sustained in the opening game. Lungi Ngidi will miss the match with a hamstring strain picked up after he bowled four overs against Bangladesh. The Proteas have also had to call up Beuran Hendricks for Dale Steyn who came into the tournament with a shoulder injury.
Hendricks is likely to be rushed into the starting XI with the Proteas seam options severely limited by a string of injuries before and during the tournament.
The Proteas will again have to choose between Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius. Pretorius is the more consistent batsman but Morris offers more with the ball and can be explosive with the willow in hand.
It bears repeating that India are very settled and will likely look to cycle their allrounders through the tournament and little else. A strong core of specialists in both departments and a number of top allrounders give India tremendous versatility. Despite the seam-friendly conditions India are likely to play three spinners (four if you count Kedar Jadhav’s part-time spin). The extra spinner will be allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, who is a luxury that India can currently afford. Jadeja is an excellent fielder, handy batsman and his left-arm orthodox spin can at times almost double as medium pace.
India have three bowlers in the ODI rankings top ten in number one Jasprit Bumrah, number seven Kuldeep Yadav, and eighth-ranked Yuzvendra Chahal. Mohammad Shami’s brilliant IPL form has seen him move ahead Bhuvneshwar Kumar on the pecking order.
Cricket World Cup 2019: South Africa vs India – Pitch Report
Venue: The Rose Bowl, Southampton
Weather: Light rain is predicted for Wednesday afternoon but we should get a game in.
Pitch: The Rose Bowl appears to have a pretty good balance between bat and ball. Teams batting first will likely set out to achieve a total over 350 but the highest total chased down at the venue is 306. The highest total at the venue in an ODI was 373. in 23 ODIs at the venue the team batting first has won 13, with one match ending in no result and nine successful chases.
Cricket World Cup 2019: South Africa vs India – betting tips
If you fancy a flutter on this match and insist on backing the Proteas then we would suggest that there is good value in backing either David Miller or JP Duminy to top-score for South Africa.
A slightly safer bet comes in the shape of Shikhar Dhawan as leading runscorer for India. Dhawan scored a hundred against the Proteas at the last world cup and the South Africans lack of a cutting edge could play right into his hands. If the Proteas sort out their new ball bowling Dhoni might be left to do a fair amount of work as well. Bookmakers are offering similar odds for Dhoni and Duminy to top score for their respective teams.
Andile Phehlukwayo gives great value as the Proteas best bowler. The allrounder was the pick of the seamers in the defeat to Bangladesh and has settled into a better rhythm than any of his teammates.
Cricket World Cup 2019: South Africa vs India – live stream and broadcast info
Start time: 11:30 SAST
Date: 5 June 2019
Broadcast: Supersport 2 and SABC 3
Live stream: DSTV NOW (subscription to DSTV premium required)