India will be itching to start their world cup 2019 campaign when they take on South Africa in Southampton. Thanks to the Lodha Committee recommendations that ICC agreed to follow in allowing India a late start to give them at least 15 days in between IPL final and first match of the ICC tournament, India has seen all the teams battle it out on the ground and had the chance to study the various factors in play in this world cup including the type of pitches they could encounter.
India will be fresh and raring to go. Kedar Jadhav has been declared fully fit by their captain Virat Kohili and should slot in directly in the middle lower order with his off spin bowling giving captain Kohli an option to not only contain the opposition batsmen but someone he can rely on in case one of his main bowlers have a bad day.
South Africa on the other hand will be anything but fresh. They play their 3rd match within a week and with loss from last 2 matches in this world cup along with injuries to their key players, not to mention Steyn getting ruled out of the tournament with a recurring shoulder injury, will just hope to get over this match quickly. And hence its the mindset of South African team that will decide the outcome of this match. If they can find good 11 players to compete fully and with a fresh mindset on the pitch, we can have a cracker of a game. But if they play with pressure which they said they didn’t have in this tournament, they will surely be out of the match before they can realize its happening.
India will be hoping for a good match to get their personnel tested as a loss in a first match is not as damaging as a loss in later matches of the group stage. They will also try to get their combinations right and stick to a 11 that can win them crunch matches in this world cup. With that in mind, KL Rahul looks to have sealed that number four position in the Indian batting line up with a century in warm up match against Bangladesh. India would be hoping that he continues his good form and keep playing good free flowing cricket that he is known for. They desperately need someone to bail them out in batting in case the top 3 batsmen fails together which happens rarely but could happen as we have seen in the past.
South Africa on the other hand would be hoping a fit again Amla along with Faf du Plessis can help them either set a big total or chase whatever comes their way with the help of contributions from some other players. They also need someone other than Faf to stand up and take responsibility in batting. So a big innings either from de Kock or Amla or David Miller will help them feel good and confident for their upcoming matches even if they lose this one. And if they lose this one, they will be on the ropes and will then need to win all their 6 remaining matches to get a guaranteed spot in the semi final of this ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
The pressure is truly on and well on South Africa. We hope they deal with it better than their past team members in other world cups.