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Men in blue step into the field as proteas wobble

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 • Common Sport News Comments

Seven matches in, India's World Cup is about to begin. They will meet a South Africa side already two bruising games into their own campaign, and already reeling from defeat and injury. Knocked flat by England in the opener, they were left chasing Bangladesh's rise on Sunday. 

South Africa, meanwhile, has already had a batsman concussed, a bowler limp off with a tweaked hamstring, twice conceded 300-plus totals and twice failed to chase them down. And now possibly the biggest blow of all: Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the tournament. The India match will be their third in six days. 

Steyn and Ngidi are out, but Hashim Amla did have a net the day before the game and will play if fit. Beuran Hendricks, Steyn's replacement, will only arrive on the morning of the match, so he's not an option, and South Africa will instead have to decide whether to play two allrounders, two spinners, or an extra batsman. One way of squeezing both Amla and Aiden Markram in could be to play Markram at No. 5 - a position he has recent experience in domestic franchise cricket.

Kedar Jadhav is back to full fitness," declared Kohli on the eve of the game, and he will likely fit snugly into India's lower-middle order. The other questions for India will be around whether to part the wrist spinners or play them together, as well as who the third seamer position will go to. The top order, meanwhile, looks settled, with Rahul the strongest contender for No. 4 with the form on his side, With a century against Bangladesh becoming a testimony of his classy gameplay 

This will be Jasprit Bumrah's 50th ODI. No bowler has taken more wickets than Bumrah (44) at the death since his ODI debut.

In his first World Cup as captain, it is worth reflecting on Kohli's journey to this point. In ODIs since the 2015 World Cup, no player has scored more runs (4,306) than Kohli. Among players to have played a minimum of 10 innings since the 2015 World Cup, Kohli's average of 78.3 is the best. Kohli has also scored 19 hundred in this time, more than anyone else. He needs one more win to complete 50 in ODIs for India as captain. 

If Virat Kohli scores a century in India's first match, He will register his third consecutive century in a match of such a kind. after knocks of 100 off 83 balls with 8 fours and 2 sixes vs Bangladesh at Mirpur on 2011 February 19 and 107 off 126 balls against Pakistan with 8 fours on 2015 February 15 at Adelaide.

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

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

The pitch spent most of the day before the game under covers, but it appeared to have had a close shave, with a brown - rather than green - tinge to it afterward. That probably means that, as usual, this will be a high-scoring game. Indeed, in the last five matches played here, the average first innings total is 311, and the average winning first innings score 336. Including the aforementioned high-scorer between England and Pakistan here, the team setting a total has won three of the last five games at the Hampshire Bowl. There was rain around the day before the game, and while the forecast is a little better on match day, inclement weather could still play a role.
 

- Kumaran Kumanan

Images Courtesy : BCCI ICC 

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