India will be playing South Africa in their opening match of the 2019 ICC World Cup. After losing the first warm-up match against New Zealand, the Men in Blue came strong to find victory in the second practice game against Bangladesh. The Proteas, however, had a difficult start to their World Cup campaign. The Proteas started their World Cup campaign with a huge 104-run defeat against the hosts England on their way to chasing 312. In their second game, Bangladesh stunned the Africans, winning by 21 runs. While South Africa will eye to overturn their fortunes in WC, Kohli and Co will look to start the campaign on a winning note. Here are the major Player Battles that will light up the high-octane fixture:
2Rohit Sharma vs Quinton de Kock
Both the players who play IPL from Mumbai Indians have immense responsibility. Rohit as well as Quinton both are the opening batsman for their respective nations. Rohit Sharma is playing his second World Cup. A man who led Mumbai Indians to their fourth victory, Rohit Sharma has to play similar role when he will don the national jersey. He has scored a meagre 385 runs against South Africa in 20 innings (only in South Africa). The right-handed batsman is mature enough to handle the situation too. If he steadily builds run mark, it will be difficult for Proteas bowlers to send him back to pavilion.
South-African wicketkeeper batsman Quinton De Kock has been one of the most consistent players for Proteas. With 4670 runs from 107 ODIs at an average of 45.78, he started the tournament with 62 but unfortunately his innings went into vein as England throttle South Africa in the first game of the ICC World Cup. In second match of the campaign against Bangladesh, he started off well and scored only 23 runs. Indian bowlers need to make a certain plan to stop this southpaw. Also, his performance behind the stumps is equally praising. A perfect Players Battles!
Hardik Pandya vs Chris Morris
All-rounder vs all-rounder! The two-fiery right-handed batsman as well as bowler and a X-factor for their respective teams. Hardik Pandya doesn’t need any introduction. We have already seen him how good he is in England. His quick-fire innings against Pakistan in Champions Trophy 2017 final is worth praising. And now, he is much mature as well as he is in a red-hot form. The all-rounder is a vital clog for men in blue. Pandya has the ability to perform not only with the bat but also with the bowl.
On the other side, Proteas has Chris Morris in their lineup. He hits the ball, bowl over 140 kph and at 31 and has experience on his side. Though we have not seen Chris Morris hitting humongous sixes but he has the ability to win the matches for his team. He generally plays at number seven position and often has a role as a finisher. In the game against India, not only with the bat, Chris Morris will be responsible for quality bowling. If he partners well with Rabada, it will be tough for Indian batsmen to play in English conditions. The 31-year-old all-rounder is a versatile bowler.
MS Dhoni vs Imran Tahir
From Chennai Super Kings with love! Last month MS Dhoni and Imran Tahir were making strategies to bag wickets for Chennai Super Kings and now they will play for their respective nations. Undoubtedly, MS Dhoni is the best finisher in the cricketing world. The wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni holds the key for India’s middle-order batting line-up. Cric fans are waiting to see ‘vintage’ Dhoni. He has already given the glimpse in practice game against Bangladesh where he hit ton in 78 balls which consisted of seven sixes.
MS Dhoni will have a threat in the form of Imran Tahir, who is an expert in taking wickets in the middle overs. The 40-year-old is in sublime form and had a remarkable IPL campaign for Chennai Super Kings as he finished as the highest wicket-taker in IPL. Tahir once said, “The way MS Dhoni carries himself is just unreal. He won’t say much but he knows how to lift the team up. He is great leader and a great human being.” Will Imran Tahir be able to end his career on a high note by grabbing MS Dhoni’s wicket?
Jasprit Bumrah vs Faf du Plesis
Among the utmost challenges for South Africa taking on India will be overcoming Jasprit Bumrah, a speed-gun whose action and laser-precise yorkers place him among the leading exponents at the death. Virat Kohli will heavily rely on Jasprit Bumrah to bag some quick wickets in early session of the game.
On the other side, the South African skipper Faf du Plesis has been in prime form in 2019. He has been scoring runs at an average of above-60. In last match against Bangladesh, the skipper scored 62 runs. Faf is the main marshal for Proteas to build mammoth of runs or while chasing the target. Considering that Jasprit Bumrah bowls most of his overs in the power play, Faf du Plesis will surely have made some plan against India’s lethal gun.
1Virat Kohli vs Kagiso Rabada
With Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi injured all the responsibility of pace attack will be on the shoulder of Kagiso Rabada. The spearhead of the pace attack becomes lethal especially in overcast conditions. It will be a treat to watch the encounter between Kagiso Rabada and Indian skipper Virat Kohli.
The 26-year-old Rabada is one of the best bowlers in the world and can be a match-winner for Proteas. If he gets Virat Kohli early in the game, then the route to victory for South Africa can be little easy. Virat on other hand will look to play safe against Rabada because Kohli has already played Rabada in the IPL, where the young gun finished as the second highest wicket-taker. Remember one thing, Rabada recently commented that it’s hard to understand Virat Kohli and his behaviour makes him look immature. Fans are sure, Kohli will respond to this comment with his bat do the talking.