World Cup: India face beleaguered South Africa Wednesday

Chennai: India is finally all set to start its 2019 World Cup campaign when the team will take on South Africa at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, Wednesday.

India is the only team left in the tournament to have not played a match yet and they will be up against South Africa, a team that is still searching for a first win after two consecutive losses. South Africa struggles for form and with injury worries to Lungi Ngidi, Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla, the proteas are going through a mini-crisis, India once again poses a tough challenge to them and du Plessis will look to get the team back to winning ways.

India on the other hand, will be vying to start its campaign with a victory. Pace is the strength for India going into the marquee event and led by Jasprit Bumrah, the lineup has Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya, who can pose a toufgh challenge to the Protes batsmen along with Wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

The injury-proned South African attack will aklso be wary of the threat the formidable Indian line-up poses to them, led by Virat Kohli it also comprises Rohit Sharma and Dhawan and with the in-form Dhoni in the middle order. It will however be interesting to see who gets the nod to play at number 4.

Vijay Shankar had some injury issues ever since he arrived in England and played only in one warm-up game. Meanwhile KL Rahul has pushed a case for himself to be included in the playing XI after hitting a century against Bangladesh in the warm-up game. Also with injury woes to Jedar Jadhav, one can expect KL Rahul to get the first go at number 4. He had extended batting sessions over the week during practice.

If Jadhav is fit, he is expected to slot in at number six, but much will depend on whether he can chip in with the ball though, for India will need a sixth bowling option. Jadhav is known to get India the breakthrough when they need it the most with his handy, lower-arm off-spin. But he did not bowl in the IPL and with the injury he suffered recently, whether he can bowl or not remains a major concern for India.

Lungi Ngidi will sit out for South Africa following an injury he suffered during the last game against Bangladesh and the Proteas management is currently working on Dale Steyn to make him match fit. Bowling has become a concern for South Africa as star bowler Kagiso Rabada, could not make a mark in both the games he played so far. Imran Tahir has been among the wickets but the wily leg-spinner needs support from other bowlers.

Faf du Plessis’ side expect to be bolstered by the return of batting star Hashim Amla, who missed the last game after being hit on the head by a Jofra Archer bouncer against England. If India beats South Africa, the latter will own the unwanted record of losing three consecutive games for the first time in the World Cup history.

Aaditya Anand M