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World Cup 2019, South Africa vs India: Key battles which could decide the outcome of the match

Gautam Kapoor
ANALYST
Feature
04 Jun 2019, 07:37 IST

Can Kohli play a vital role in India's first game?
Can Kohli play a vital role in India's first game?

We’ve had to be patient for it, but the Indian cricket team is all set to take to the field on Wednesday. The Asian power house will be facing off against South Africa at the Rose Bowl, Southampton as they look to get their World Cup campaign underway.

Touted to be a clash between two of the frontrunners for this edition, the clash has lost its sheen even before its onset owing to the inclement form South Africa find themselves in.

They’ve endured a horrendous start to the tournament, being cleaned out by England and Bangladesh comprehensively to find themselves languishing at the bottom.

We pour an insight into the key battles which could eventually shape the encounter when these two countries face off against each on a surface which promises to have a fair share of grass left on it. The pacers against the top order batsmen will be the main takeaway from this match and we look at the players who could determine each side’s fortunes. 

Previous Encounters

We’ve seen 83 matches between these two colossal sides with South Africa holding the upper hand over India. They have won it on 46 occasions, 8 more than India. There has been a no result to this clash three times.

The last time the two sides had met was in 2017 in South Africa when India had showcased one of their best performances overseas to trounce the Proteas 5-1.

Away from home, the two countries have played 21 times with South Africa edging India 11-9. The last time the two had met in England was in 2017 when India had defeated South Africa by eight wickets.

At the World Cup, we’ve seen the same script being carried out with South Africa holding a heavy hand against India.

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In the four matches they’ve played against each other, South Africa have come out on top three times while India have managed to be successful on the single occasion.

Key Battles

Virat Kohli Vs Kagiso Rabada

Two mainstays of their side, both Virat Kohli and Kagiso Rabada are going to play a crucial role for their units, not only in this particular encounter, but throughout their sojourn as well. And we’ve already had this battle get underway even before the first ball of the match has been bowled when Rabada took a jibe at the Indian captain by calling him immature.

However if anyone in the cricketing fraternity thrives on such jibes, it’s Kohli. He is one batsman who loves the pressure situations. Being someone who has more than adequately answered questions directed at him on the field, Rabada’s unsavoury words would have only further driven him in scoring a colossal innings come the match.

In the 11 ODIs the two have faced off in as well, Kohli has held a massive control over Rabada. He’s been dismissed just twice by the pacer, both instances when he lobbed the ball straight back to Rabada.

However in the recently concluded IPL, Rabada targeted Kohli’s helmet. It’s an area Kohli hates the ball being directed at and if Rabada can dish the same to him in the early part of his innings, South Africa could send back a big wicket early on.

Quinton de Kock Vs Jasprit Bumrah

In a batting line-up which has crumbled way too abjectly, Quinton de Kock has been the only batsman who has shown resilience in the face of adversary.

He’s refused to give up without a fight, continuing from the form he left the IPL in. South Africa will be wishing he can show the same perseverance yet again.

It won’t be easy for him against an incoming Jasprit Bumrah who will be overjoyed by the green covering left on the surface.

He knows Quinton de Kock extremely well, having played with him just a month back when the two represented Mumbai Indians and will be looking to work him up with his versatile skill set.

What Bumrah posses is the exuberant ability to keep bowling immaculately in the same areas persistently leaving batsmen perturbed on how to face him.

De Kock hates the incoming ball and Bumrah will be looking to pitch the ball outside the offstump in a bid to send him back to the pavilion. 

Also read - Most world cup wins

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