ODI World Cup: Can India’s Red-Hot Bowlers Stop Rampaging South Africa Batters In Clash Of Titans?
Kolkata: A month ago, when the ODI World Cup kicked off, no one could have imagined that South Africa – and not England or Australia – would be battling with favourites Team India for top place in the marathon league phase.
As it transpires, Temba Bavuma-led Proteas and Rohit Sharma’s men in blue are the teams to beat in this World Cup, in which defending champions England have put up a major flop to be already eliminated.
Kolkata’s iconic Eden Gardens is all set to host the clash of titans, which many consider to be a dress rehearsal for the November 19 final at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
The Indians have a 100% win record in seven games, but they will be facing their sternest test yet against a team which has won six and lost only to The Netherlands in one of the upsets of the tournament.
To gauge South Africa’s red-hot form in this World Cup, it is suffice to look at their brilliant run – 5 of their 6 victories have been by margins in excess of 100 runs.
Batting first and piling on huge totals has been their mantra. All bowling attacks have suffered as South Africa scored 428 (vs Sri Lanka), 311 (vs Australia), 399 (vs England), 382 (vs Bangladesh) and 357 (vs New Zealand).
One man has dominated the Proteas’ dazzling batting show – wicketkeeper-opener Quinton de Kock who has hit 4 centuries in 7 games for an aggregate of 545 runs. The likes of Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller have chipped in with powerful performances to help South Africa motor along.
But even the Proteas are well aware that they will be up against the best bowling side in the competition. Jasprit Bumrah has been on fire, Mohammad Shami has bagged 14 wickets in just 3 games after being ignored in the first 4 games, Mohammad Siraj showed in the last match how lethal he can be, while spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja are not only difficult to score off but also wicket-taking bowlers.
On the batting front, skipper Rohit Sharma has been leading from the front with an aggressive approach which has been intimidating opposition attacks.
Birthday boy Virat Kohli will be looking to score his 49th ODI ton. Expectations will also be high from Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav who complete a batting line-up which is every team’s envy.
It’s unfortunate that Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the tournament, but that won’t affect Team India’s performance as they have already been playing without him in last 3 games.