ICC World Cup 2019: Match 1, England vs South Africa, Preview – Battle for the ultimate title begins with a clash of star strugglers

ICC World Cup 2019: Match 1, England vs South Africa, Preview – Battle for the ultimate title begins with a clash of star strugglers

Whilst England lost more finals than any other side in history, South Africa never reached the final despite having some of the finest superstars on their side.

South Africa
South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

A tale of cheers and tears, a day where emotions ride so high it begins to sting, nothing gets bigger and better than this. Hosts England kick-start cricket’s ultimate extravaganza on Thursday with a battle against the other star strugglers at this stage, South Africa. Whilst England lost more finals than any other side in history, South Africa never reached the final despite having some of the finest superstars on their side.

Right after the 2015 World Cup, if someone had said England would enter the next edition as hot favourites, no one would’ve batted an eye. Under the astounding leadership of Eoin Morgan, England scaled mountains in these years in ODIs. Yet, the fear of failure always haunts the best in the business and it still won’t be an easy task for them to go all the way.

Wounds from Auckland still remain fresh in the sight of many of these South African cricketers. They were inches away from entering the final before New Zealand pipped them by the skin of their teeth. A lot has changed in their side with some great young sensations coming in and one stalwart retiring. They still are very much in contention to go all the way, yet their history always creates a sense of doubt.

Playing Combinations

England

There are plenty of run-getters in this lineup, who could singlehandedly win games for the side. Roy and Bairstow were sensational in the series against Pakistan whilst Jos Buttler is continuing his purple patch. Eoin Morgan and Joe Root are looking confident heading into the tournament and are always an important part of this side.

Jofra Archer’s addition adds more strength to this bowling attack. Chris Woakes has been consistently amassing good performances and he will relish bowling with Archer in the death. Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali are their two spinning options, who have been picking wickets at regular intervals.

Predicted XI

Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (C), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (WK), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett

South Africa

They will be tempted to play Aiden Markram in the XI, but Rassie van der Dussen will be getting a nod ahead of him. This would mean Hashim Amla will open with the swashbuckling Quinton de Kock, with skipper Faf du Plessis batting at number 3. The experience and exuberance of JP Duminy and Miller in the middle order will come in handy.

Kagiso Rabada is the face of their bowling lineup currently, but the likes of Lungi Ngidi and Dwaine Pretorius have been very helpful in the last few months. Imran Tahir is in outstanding form with the white ball, having finished the IPL as the highest wicket-taker. If there is some purchase for the spinners, they also have JP Duminy who could chip in with a few overs.

Predicted XI

Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (WK), Faf du Plessis (C), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir

Focus will be on

Jos Buttler (England)

If Morgan was the director behind England’s meteoric rise in the last few years, Jos Buttler was the chief protagonist. The middle-order batsman has been scoring runs for fun and is in the form of his life just before the biggest assignment of his career. He has been the best finisher in world cricket and he would be desperate to help the Three Lions finally wear the crown.

Hashim Amla (South Africa)

Hashim Amla was under the scrutiny for not scoring a lot of runs in 2018. He nevertheless got the backing from selectors and captain after all the remarkable cricket he has played in his career. He looked in fine touch in the first two warm-up games, registering scores of 65 and 51. A confident Hashim Amla is the biggest threat one could potentially face from the Proteas.

Head to head

Matches Played – 59 | England won – 26 | South Africa won – 29 | Tied – 1 | No Result – 3

Stat Attack

23 – Eoin Morgan is 23 short of becoming England’s first ever cricketer to notch 7,000 runs in ODI cricket.

90 – Hashim Amla needs 90 runs to complete 8,000 ODI runs. He will become only the 4th South African to do so.

Broadcasting details

TV – Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD

Live stream – Hotstar

Time: 3 pm (IST) and 9.30 am (GMT).