The much awaited Team India campaign in the World Cup 2019 will begin on Wednesday when it clashes with a beleaguered South Africa at The Rose Bowl in Southampton.
Virat Kohli-led Team India is all set take on the Proteas that are struggling for form and with injuries. South Africa are going through a mini-crisis after losing to England and Bangladesh.And a defeat by India could be a disaster for South Africa.
India are the only team left in the tournament to have not played a match yet. The two-time world champions plan to push South Africa towards elimination in Southampton by deploying a feared bowling line-up led by Jasprit Bumrah, the top-ranked one-day international bowler in the world.
Jasprit Bumrah is ably supported by Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya. Wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal lend variety to India's attack. "Bowling is going to be India's strength," former batsman Sanjay Manjrekar said.
"India would be favourites alongside Australia and England. New Zealand are the dark horses," he said.
Kohli as captain is the key to India's batting with his 10,843 runs in 227 ODI matches at an average of 59.57. The 30-year-old's importance to India is not lost on South African pace bowler Kagiso Rabada.
Lungi Ngidi, Dale Steyn reeling
Rabada leads South Africa's injury-hit pace attack, with Lungi Ngidi sidelined after suffering a hamstring strain in Sunday's defeat against Bangladesh.
Veteran paceman Dale Steyn is also a doubt after missing the first two games with a shoulder injury. But 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.
Thrashed by England in their tournament opener, the Proteas' 21-run defeat against Bangladesh at the Oval has put them in a perilous position.