Southampton:The two-time world champions Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team
will be raring to get on the field when they square off against South Africa here on Wednesday.India are the only team left in the tournament to have not played a match yet and they will be up against a South African, who has already suffered two huge losses in this tournament and will be keen to register their first win of the tournament.
India's top-order failed to fire in both their warm-ups, which is a slight cause of concern,
but they seem to have settled the No.4 debate at last. Kohli, in his first 50-over World Cup as captain, is the key to India's batting, with his 10,843 runs in 227 ODI matches at an average of 59.57.
It might not always be accurate, but it's likely that India have identified their No. 4, after
months of searching for the ideal candidate. KL Rahul is all set to get the first go following
his century against Bangladesh in the warm-up match.
Rahul had extended batting sessions over the week, as India followed a set pattern - Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma alternating between the throw-down nets and the main nets, followed by Rahul. Rohit seemed in an attacking mood, hooking the pacers and slogging the spinners, while Kohli was happy to just take throw-downs.
Their bowling is overflowing with potential, too, with Jasprit Bumrah growing from strength to strength. Bumrah is ably supported by fellow quicks Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya. Their two wrist-spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, continuing to prove to be big wicket-takers.
On the other hand, this will be a must-win game for du Plessis's team as a third consecutive loss would reduce their chance even further to progress for the next round. If India manages to
beat them then South Africa will own the unwanted record of losing three consecutive games
for the first time in the World Cup history.
South Africa have had a tough initiation into this World Cup, suffering defeats in both their games so far, and it doesn't get any easier as they face world No.2 India, who are one of the
top contenders for the trophy.
South Africa conceded totals of over 300 against both England and Bangladesh, but that is only to be expected in these conditions. Their batsmen, however, fell well short against
England and, despite a much-improved performance against Bangladesh, still couldn't take the team through. Against the quality of India's attack, it calls for a huge step-up in that aspect of
India: Virat Kohli (c), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (wk),
Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya,
KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla,
Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy,
Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi.(UNI)