A battle royale is on the cards when table toppers India take on a rampaging South Africa in a high-profile World Cup 2023 match at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday, november 5, 2023.
India have dominated the tournament so far with seven emphatic wins in a row to become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals.
South Africa are a close second, with six wins from seven games — their only defeat being the shock loss against The Netherlands.
The match at the Eden Gardens will boil down to a fierce contest between the best batting side against the most destructive bowling side of the World Cup.
South Africa’s batters have thrashed every bowling attack — except the Dutch — which has squared up against them.
Quinton de Kock has led the way with 545 runs from seven matches at a strike rate of 112, with four centuries.
Aiden Markram (362 runs), Rassie van der Dussen (353 runs), Heinrich Klaasen (315 runs) and David Miller (220 runs) — all have a strike well in excess of 100.
South Africa are the only team to have posted 300-plus totals in five of the seven matches played so far. Their highest has been 428/5 against Sri Lanka, while they amassed a huge 399/7 against England, 382/5 against Bangladesh, 357/4 against New Zealand, 311/7 against Australia.
Their bowlers, despite a consistent showing, have not enjoyed the same limelight.
Left-arm pacer Marco Jansen is their top wicket-taker with 16 wickets along with hitting 143 runs at a strike rate of 128.
Young pacer Gerald Coetzee has proved to be quite effective with 14 wickets with Kagiso Rabada taking 11 the same as spinner Keshav Maharaj.
Even though, they boast of superstars in their batting line-up, India’s bowling has proved to be their big strength in the World Cup. They have proved to be too hot to handle for every opponent they have come up against, having claimed all 10 wickets in five of the seven matches played so far.
Jasprit Bumrah is bowling in the form of his life, with 15 wickets from seven matches at an economy rate of 3.72, while Mohammed Shami has been unstoppable with 14 wickets from three games, including two five-wicket hauls, at an astonishing average of 6.71.
Mohammed Siraj is another important cog of the bowling attack with nine wickets from seven games.
Wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav’s variation has deceived most batting line-ups, taking 10 wickets, while Ravindra Jadeja has bagged nine wickets as India’s five-man bowling attack has fired on all cylinders.
An interesting point to note is that out of South Africa’s six wins, five have come while batting first. Their lone win in a run chase came against Pakistan when they squeezed home by one wicket, but succumbed to the pressure of the run chase against a clinical bowling performance by the Dutch.
On the other hand, India finished on the winning side chasing a target in their first five games, before they won the next two matches while batting first.
Though there is nothing much to choose between the two teams, but it is clear that India do have enough firepower in their bowling to stop the all-powerful South African batting line-up.
Bumrah will be the key for India with the ball as they hope to dismiss the in-form de Kock early, with Shami also expected to the early damage with the new ball targetting the likes of van der Dussen and Markram with his ability to swing the ball.
Kuldeep’s left-arm wrist spin could be a key factor for the Indians in the middle overs with the South African not so renowned for their batting against top quality spin.
Another reason why India will target early wickets is because South Africa in all their five wins when batting first, having lost at the most just two wickets in the first 25 overs, which proves that if they get going they are pretty hard to stop.
South Africa will also be wary of India’s batting prowess. Rohit Sharma has provided the spark for India at the top of the order with his aggressive approach in the Powerplay, having smashed his way to 402 runs in seven games at a strike rate of 119.
Virat Kohli has found his consistency with 442 runs, including a century and four fifties, while Shubman Gill finding some form in the previous game against Sri Lanka will have eased some nerves.
Shreyas Iyer blasted his way to an entertaining 82 from 56 balls at the Wankhede stadium to silence all his critics as India go into the crunch game against South Africa full of confidence.
India’s bowling for Sunday’s game could depend on the pitch at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. While Cricket Association of Bengal Curator Sujan Mukherjee is promising a good wicket full of runs, one can expect the seamers to get some help.
With Hardik Pandya ruled out of the World Cup with injury, India are likely to retain the same winning combination against the Proteas.
Playing with five specialist bowlers and no decent part-time bowler, it will be important for the Indians that the bowlers sustain their form going into the business end of the World Cup.
The hosts will be keen to continue their winning run as a defeat so close to the semis could disrupt their momentum and also sow seeds of self-doubt in the camp.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, K L Rahul (wicket-keeper), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.
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- World Cup 2023
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