World Cup 2019: It's advantage Virat Kohli and Co against South Africa!

Published: Jun 05, 2019, 08:45 IST | Santosh Suri |

Virat Kohli and Co look to start their campaign with a bang against struggling South Africa at Ageas Bowl

India begin their World Cup campaign in this port city where over a 100 years ago the Titanic had set sail on its doomed journey to New York. Of course, India would not take it as a bad omen as they are one of the strongest teams in the tournament and are considered among the favourites to claim the title.

India are the last to enter the fray as all the other teams have played at least one game and have set the tone for the tournament. There have been a couple of surprising results already, making things rather interesting going ahead into the long-drawn affair.

India are naturally a bit apprehensive before their first game. “Nervous and excited,” as skipper Virat Kohli put it. But the good thing is that their opponents South Africa are low on confidence and morale as they have lost both their games and are also seriously hampered by injuries.

Injury concerns

The biggest setback for them was when Dale Steyn was finally ruled out of the World Cup as he could not recover from the injury sustained during the IPL. He was one of their premier fast bowlers and with Lungi Ngidi also not available due to an injury, South Africans are under tremendous pressure to lift their game whatever the odds.

India have been in the UK for a fortnight and have acclimatised well. Though they have had mixed success in the two warm-up games, the biggest plus has been the century at No. 4 by KL Rahul against Bangladesh at Cardiff, making him a certainty to bat at the contentious batting position.

Openers' form a worry

India’s major concern is the form of their openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. But the team management is not too concerned as they know the duo are experienced players with big-match temperament. They reckon it is a matter of time before they make their presence felt in the middle.

The good thing for India is that all their players are fit and raring to go. Kedar Jadhav has recovered from the injury he suffered during the IPL and has been batting fluently in the nets.

It will be interesting to see what combination India deploy in their opening match. Will they attack the South Africans with two wrist spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav or be more conservative and play only Chahal and three seamers, backed up by all-rounder Hardik Pandya, especially as there is a threat of rain with a stiff cool breeze blowing across the beautiful Ageas Bowl Stadium.

With the weather rather fickle, it could be favourable for swing bowling in the initial part of the match. But with the pitch bereft of grass, it could turn into be a beautiful strip to bat on especially if the sun comes out. That augurs well for the Indian team as they have the potential to post big totals which we have seen in a couple of matches already.

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