India vs South Africa : South Africa to Pull off a Miracle Victory?

India vs South Africa : South Africa to Pull off a Miracle Victory?
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India vs South Africa : The shots were fired after South African fast bowler KG Rabada called Indian captain Virat Kohli immature. However, Virat didn’t say anything confrontational but everyone knew the match between India-South Africa would be nothing short of a battle after Rabada castigated Kohli. Perhaps, this is what would have added spark in lackluster World Cup so far.

South Africa on backfoot before the match

If you are in South African Camp or team supporter, the news of Dale Steyn being out of World Cup should make the mood worse. The team was already low after the World Cup start they had. Steyn “Gun” absence also means aggressive hot streak in bowling and fiery fist pump celebration goes missing. The presence of a player as big as Steyn would immediately lift the spirit of the team up which is needed at this stage for a side that has been humbled by two losses. South Africa will miss Steyn for sure.

With the team needing to win 6 out of 9 matches for a guaranteed spot in the semis, the window of opportunity for the African side is closing. One more loss and that could virtually mean the end of the road in this tournament for the rainbow nation.

With Dale Steyn out of the World Cup, the team is already without its premier strike bowler. Kagiso Rabada, JP Duminy were coming off injury layoff. With Lungi Ngidi out of India’s game (sore left hamstring), and Hashim Amla going off a concussion on being hit on the helmet by Jofra Archer in the first match.

South Africa’s problems compounded even before World Cup started, as young bowler Anrich Nortje, who could bowl at 145kmph+, was out with shoulder injury. With batting looking thin and lacking an X-factor and the finishing touch. Can South Africa keep hopes alive?

South Africa record of 3 wins in 4 matches against India and rustiness that could be from playing the first match of the tournament could work in team’s favor.

But is there anything that could show the light for rainbow nation amidst curtains falling on their campaign? If you are South African, you should believe it till matches are done and dusted. India vs South Africa will be nothing less than a knock out match for the Proteas.

A look at today’s match weather and record of the ground

The weather is not likely to please either of the team or its fan. Cloud covers are expected to start at 71% and extend to 99 percent as the day progresses. So cold weather with humidity of 50-60.

Now here’s the catch, in 22 matches played so far 12 teams have won games batting first. The average first innings score is 262 while second innings the average score goes down to 213. So in general team who wins toss would like to bat first.

Analysis of the India-South Africa match situation

Will African’s take a chance and bat first also given their woes chasing in the first two encounters? Tricky choice.

If India fields three pacers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami along with Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar, it could then spell trouble for the team desperately looking to save faces. If they could pass through fast bowler’s spell with very little damage, then there is Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal waiting in the wings. Both combined took 33 wickets in the first ever bilateral series win for India. A significant danger looms here if South Africa bats first. The lower order of India isn’t well known for its batting, so no surprises there to shoot up the score. So once the top and middle order of India gets out the lower order will be dusted sooner rather than later.

What if South Africa were to Bowl First?

If South Africa were to bowl first and get two out of top three Indian batsmen with young KL Rahul coming under the line of fire and even Kedar Jadhav returning from injury, it could put India in a spot of bother with batting heavily depending on MS Dhoni to consolidate and explode at the end. MS Dhoni is a slow starter, and that means more pressure on his partner at another end if India is batting first to accelerate towards a good score.

The batting of South Africa with Quinton De Kock, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, David Miller, Van der Dussen should back themselves. They could get a chance to amend what went wrong in the game against Bangladesh.

For Bowling perspective, Kagiso Rabada has to get first breakthrough. No other way. Imran Tahir record of 10 wickets against India in 11 matches at a poor average of 51 doesn’t make him the danger man. So the onus will be on fast bowler’s to make inroads.

Will South Africa throw in surprise by starting with Imran Tahir in today’s India vs South Africa match? Unlikely given how good Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli are against spin.

Final Words with Verdict

The team who bats seconds has a higher chance of winning the match than a team who bats first as opposed to the statistics. Also given the forecasts of rain, the team would want to hit second as Duckworth-Lewis might come into play.

Key Players to Watch out for

Quinton De Kock, who has six centuries against India, will be key batsman equally important will be captain Faf Du Plessis who will be expected to lead from the front. From bowling KG Rabada right at the start has to get early breakthroughs even one wicket right in the first over could do the trick for South Africa. Mitch Starc did against New Zealand by removing dangerman Brendan Mccullum in the finals of CWC with the third delivery of the match. South African bowlers are known to hunt in pair, and they did so against England getting well set Joe Root, and Jason Roy out and even got Bangladesh opener’s in quick succession. If South Africa gets Indian opener’s early that could set up for an exciting match given middle order woes of India.

Young Guns May Prove Vital

Young player from South Africa’s rank could turn the table in favour of South Africa. India have been very poor when it comes to making life difficult for a young player coming through the ranks. Ask Faf Du Plessis who slammed a half century on debut in 2010 ODI series and booking his ticket to World Cup 2011 or Rabada who stopped MS Dhoni from finishing off game in Kanpur, 2015.

Verdict

India on paper don’t have any injury or form concern.  They start as favorites. However, rustiness of the first match, the condition could go against them. India, though being ahead at the moment, one should not discount African chances too.  They would be keen to continue safari in this World Cup. For India ,the famous Kul-Cha pair (Kuldeep Yadav-Yuzvendra Chahal) will be the key player’s.

Predict and win: Who will win the World Cup?

Pic Courtesy: Jagran Josh

Saurebh Gandle 

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