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World Cup 2019: 3 challenges that South Africa face in their opening match against England

ANALYST
Feature
963   //    30 May 2019, 05:05 IST

Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis

Cricket's biggest spectacle is less than a day away. The ICC World Cup has long been anticipated, and its return to England and Wales makes it all the more special.

A lot has changed since the last 50-over World Cup though. The 2015 World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand saw current hosts England exit after the first round of the tournament. While both the host nations made it to the final, India and South Africa were the other semifinalists - with the latter narrowly missing out on what could have been their first ever World Cup final.

Post their 2015 debacle, England - which has never the best one-day side - turned around their fortunes and how. They packed their batting lineup with power hitters, and even their number seven has the potential to smash a century on any given day. They have crossed scores of 300 and 400 more than any other team since the end of the last World Cup, and have been the most successful ODI team both home and away.

South Africa, at least on paper, are not the dangerous unit they once were. They were taken aback by two key retirements last year - those of AB De Villiers and Morne Morkel. They even conceded a home ODI series to India for the first time in history last year, losing by a margin of 1-5.

The Proteas, however, looked strong on their away tours to Sri Lanka and Australia later that year, and dominated most of their home season. With a decent run in the warm-ups leading up to the tournament, they seem ready for the challenge.

But they are up against the favorites for the tournament right off the bat. Here's a look at the challenges in store for them.

#1 England's batting

England have transformed themselves into a batting powerhouse like never before
England have transformed themselves into a batting powerhouse like never before

England's never-ending batting lineup is as star studded as it gets. Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan just make up the top order. Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali look threatening, as does the lower order containing the likes of Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid.

As I mentioned above, huge scores are guaranteed with England around. So don't be surprised if there are record totals in this tournament.

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South Africa's biggest challenge would be starting their campaign without Dale Steyn, who is unavailable for the first match due to injury. Though the country has produced many talented bowlers including Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi in recent years, none of their seamers has the experience of bowling in the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Although Imran Tahir will be appearing in his third World Cup, the Proteas will miss the experience of stalwarts like Steyn as well as Morne Morkel, who retired from international cricket last year.

Also read - Cricket world cup prize money

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