SOUTHAMPTON: South Africa on Wednesday opted to bat first after winning the toss in their third World Cup 2019 match against India at Southampton.
It’s Day 7 at the Cricket World Cup and finally Virat Kohli’s India team will get its campaign underway against South Africa.
The two-time champions will be heavy favourites against a South Africa squad that is coming off losses to England and Bangladesh and has been hit by injuries.
Injured South African paceman Dale Steyn was ruled out of the tournament on the eve of the match, but opening batsman Hashim Amla is likely to be fit to play at Hampshire’s Rose Bowl after missing the loss against Bangladesh because of concussion protocol.
New Zealand and Bangladesh are set to meet in a day-night match at the Oval. Both teams are coming off impressive wins. New Zealand opened with a 10-wicket thumping of Sri Lanka in Cardiff and Bangladesh beat South Africa.
India are banking on their experience in their World Cup opener against South Africa and cannot take the opposition’s depleted bowling attack lightly, captain Virat Kohli said on Tuesday, insisting the Proteas can call upon quality replacements.
Kohli’s India are ranked second in the world and will be firm favourites as they begin their quest for a third World Cup triumph against a South African side that faces an uphill struggle after the loss of strike bowlers Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi.
“We need to bring all our experience to the play tomorrow to be able to make right decisions in pressure situations,” Kohli told reporters during a training session ahead of Wednesday’s match in Southampton.
“So we never take anyone lightly, and whether a few key players get injured or not, if a youngster is stepping in and he has the right mindset, he can really perform on the day … we need to maintain respect for that and focus on our strength and what we can do as a side.”
Kohli, who is captaining the Indian side for the first time in a World Cup, said his team’s late start to the tournament allows them to learn from previous games and match conditions.
“From that point of view, we would say that we have a lot of positives that we can take out of starting after everyone else.”
India have won the World Cup in 1983 and 2011, while South Africa has never won the 50-over edition, but Kohli said this year’s tournament presents a different challenge.
Kohli said the unique format of the 2019 tournament, in which every nation plays nine matches over more than a month, means that teams must adapt very quickly and that experienced teams will have an edge.
“The errors you would make when you are not that aware of game situations, they will slowly start to taper off as you play more and more cricket.”
“When you have experienced people in your team who have also grown with you as cricketers, eventually you all start making good decisions, you have discussions, you think of the right thing, sometimes instinctively.”
With input from AP, REUTERS.