South Africa recently sealed the three-match ODI series against England with a 2-0 unassailable lead. The Proteas won by five wickets in the second ODI in Bloemfontein while chasing a formidable score of 343. It was their third-highest chase in ODIs and their highest at the Mangaung Oval.
The series victory and the possibility of a whitewash in Kimberley will keep Temba Bavuma and his men in the race for direct qualification for the 2023 World Cup in India later this year.
England, on the other hand, have lost five ODI games in a row since they were crowned T20 World Cup champions in November last year. However, this stat is unlikely to disturb England's position in the World Cup Super League.
England are the defending champions of the World Cup after winning on the boundary count rule against New Zealand in the final of the 2019 edition. Meanwhile, South Africa have never progressed beyond the semi-final stage of the World Cup.
South Africa or England - Who will make life tough for hosts India in the 2023 World Cup?
Before we draw any conclusions on which team can edge out India in their home conditions, let's note that the 2023 World Cup will be played in a round-robin format, similar to the one seen in the previous edition in England and Wales.
All 10 participating teams will have the opportunity to face each of their opponents once in the league stage. This means each team will play nine matches ahead of the semi-finals, with the top four teams on the table qualifying for the next round.
India will face both England and South Africa (with the subject of qualification) in the quadrennial event. Just to remind our readers, during their triumphant World Cup win in 2011, India did not get the better of two teams in Group B. Those two teams were South Africa and England.
Both games turned out to be intense high-chasing thrillers, with South Africa being the only side to defeat India in their successful campaign.
England leveled the scores while chasing 338 in Bengaluru. Thanks to a masterclass innings from then England captain Andrew Strauss (158 in 145 balls) in a bid to pull off a spectacular win.
India's head-to-head ODI record against South Africa and England in World Cups
India and South Africa have faced each other in five World Cup clashes between 1992 and 2019. The African side tasted victory in the first three instances to dominate the rivalry until India turned the tables to register their first win over them in 2015, followed by another clinical show in 2019.
India vs South Africa in ODI World Cup Head-to-Head records
Matches played: 5
South Africa won: 3
India won: 2
England have a better record against India in the ICC Men's World Cup. The two sides have locked horns eight times from 1975 to 2019. England have won on four occasions, while India have won three times, with one match ending in a tie.
India vs England in ODI World Cup Head-to-Head records
Matches played: 8
England won: 4
India won: 3
Tied/No Result: 01
If we look at the bilateral series record from last year, India defeated both England (in July 2022) and South Africa (in October 2022) with identical results of 2-1.
Although the Proteas had blanked the Men in Blue 3-0 in January last year in the rainbow nation, England are yet to register a series win against India since 2018.
South Africa have a far better bowling side to challenge India's formidable batting attack in the spin-friendly conditions. Bjorn Fortuin could be a back-up to Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj to bowl the middle overs.
The likes of Sisanda Magala and Marco Jansen are being groomed to step up when their core pace attack, comprising of Wayne Parnell, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, and Lungi Ngidi, runs out of steam.
Jason Roy's return to form has been a great sign for England in defending the title. Roy and missing star Jonny Bairstow will form a lethal pair in the 50-over format, with Joe Root likely at No.3 in the same classic top-order.
The likes of Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Jos Buttler, and Moeen Ali only show the depth of their batting order.
Analyzing all the possible factors in squads and records, both England and South Africa will present challenges for India in the marquee event.
At the moment, South Africa look like a better side and could be the team to surprise the hosts, just like they did at the 2022 World Cup in Perth.
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