World Cup Preview: India v/s South Africa

Pool B, Melbourne


Captains: MS Dhoni, AB de Villiers

India: Played 1, Won 1
South Africa: Played 1, Won 1

India defeated Pakistan, and South Africa defeated potential giant-killers Zimbabwe in their first games.

India have never beaten South Africa in World Cup Cricket, losing all 3 matches over the years (2011, 1999, 1992)

The winner of this match is most likely going to top Pool B, earning the right to play the fourth-placed team of Pool A (either Sri Lanka or England)

Fresh from a confidence-boosting victory over Asian rivals Pakistan, their first win on their long Australian sojourn, India will know that they could come thudding back down to Earth against the outright favorites of the tournament. South Africa have rarely lost Group games, and are at their strongest early on, while India still have many issues to sort out as far as their bowling is concerned. Pakistan gave them a false dawn, forcing them to believe that all is well with their form. However, Steyn and co. will be a different prospect altogether—a team they have never done well against traditionally, either Home or Away. MS Dhoni must find his finishing form, while Raina and Rahane need to be careful against wily Imran Tahir. Rohit has to capitalize on his form and not throw away his wicket against Steyn, Morkel and Philander. He will be expected to stay at the crease and shore up the innings if Dhawan fails—most likely, considering the bowling attack they’re facing. Much will depend on whether they chase or bat first though. Yadav can’t afford to bowl even one bad ball an over against the strongest batting line-up in the tournament, and Shami won’t get any free wickets. Ashwin needs to keep it simple again, while Jadeja could be replaced by Binny at the MCG.

X-factor: Rohit Sharma. He scored a century here against Australia in the tri-series opener a month ago, before pulling his hamstring. He knows the pitch well, and will look to reinforce his fearsome reputation at the top.

They were in deep trouble against Zimbabwe until Duminy and Miller rescued them with a record partnership. Their top order is due after collective failure, and they will look to feast on India’s weak bowling attack. Amla rarely fails twice in a row, and AB in the slog overs could be India’s worst nightmare. However, the ground is large, and they will be wary against the slower bowlers. Steyn almost always worries Rohit at the top, while Morkel is expected to bounce Dhawan and Raina out. They are easily the all-around strongest outfit in Australia, and are expected, not for the first time, to reach the final without a hiccup. If they beat India, they will probably destroy West Indies and Pakistan too. They arguably have the more dynamic group, and could face a weaker team in the quarterfinals. They have NEVER won a World-Cup knockout game though, and will change that in this edition. The only team that can consistently outplay them is the spunky Australian team, who they might not face before the final.

X-factor: David Miller. The cleanest hitter in cricket has his first World Cup century to his name, after blitzing Zimbabwe.

South Africa. Anything else, including a rained-out game, will be an upset.

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