Okay – this is the big one. After days of waiting, the World Cup actually gets started. After all, it’s Team India in the house!
Really, without India there is no cricket, and certainly no World Cup. Close to 90 percent of the revenue earned by the ICC comes from India alone. Which is why the Indian cricket board, BCCI, is powerful enough to choose the Indian team’s schedule.
The reason India are playing so late when their opponents, South Africa, have already played (and lost) two matches is because the BCCI wanted to ensure enough rest between the close of the IPL and the start of the World Cup for Indian players.
For India, South Africa presents a meaty target. The team is all but down and out after two bad defeats. Captain Faf du Plessis talks well at press conferences, but his batting form seems to have completely deserted him. Dale Steyn, their premiere fast bowler, had to return home because of an injury sustained when playing in the IPL.
Only Quinton de Kock is holding the fort for South Africa and a lot depends on him. He has a very good record against India, having made 4 hundreds against them, at an average of 96.7! If Jaspreet Bumrah gets him out early, then South Africa is ripe for the taking – After AB de Villiers retirement from international cricket, the South African batting line-up has looked really fragile.
As for India, they have a settled batting line-up and had a simple choice to make – Vijay Shankar or KL Rahul at no. 4? Well, Rahul is batting well right now, while Shankar’s selection makes no sense when you have Rishabh Pant waiting in the wings. So, Rahul should get the nod.
South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis (capt0, 4 Rassie van der Dussen, 5 Aiden Markram, 6 David Miller, 7 JP Duminy, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Chris Morris, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Imran Tahir
India (possible): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 KL Rahul, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja/Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Mohammed Shami, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
The pitch at Hampshire Bowl seems to be perfect for batting. Rain is likely, but shouldn’t affect the proceedings much.
Prediction: India to win.