ICC World Cup 2019 | England aim to dominate South Africa in WC opener  

ICC World Cup 2019 | England aim to dominate South Africa in WC opener  

Rishabh Pachory

Rishabh Pachory


Hosts and hot favourites England will know this is their best chance to lift the crown for the first time, when they take on perennial underachievers South Africa in the World Cup opener at The Oval here today.

England, who are still in search of their first trophy like South Africa, have risen from the ashes of their poor campaign in the showpiece last time, following that group-stage exit by ascending to the summit of the ICC ODI rankings.

ICC World Cup 2019 | England aim to dominate South Africa in WC opener  

Eoin Morgan's side boast the most dominant batting unit in 50-over cricket and their bowling too oozes the firepower few teams can rival. In the warm-up games however, England faltered in their first outing losing to fellow title contenders Australia.

But other teams would very well know that these matches mean little when it comes to the tournament- where the English bat as deep as anyone with the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy boasting the highest strike-rates of any openers in ODI history to have posted more than 1,000 runs, yet still have the highest average of any pair topping the order in the competition.

Joe Root is one of the world's best batters in all formats with skipper Morgan, in-form Jos Buttler, all-rounder Ben Stokes following him to lead a talent-laden cast of cricketers.

ICC World Cup 2019 | England aim to dominate South Africa in WC opener  

England's bowling might not be as breathtaking as their batting, but with the inclusion of Jofra Archer - who has just qualified to represent the team but was fast tracked into the fold - their pace battery could make a considerable difference.

On flat decks, spinners could play a role and it is then that leggie Adil Rashid comes into the picture, having taken more wickets than any other bowler since the tournament's 2015 edition.

Talking about South Africa, the Proteas received a body blow on Tuesday as pace spearhead Dale Steyn was ruled out for the first game with a shoulder injury.

South Africa, always considered one of the favourites, have also had injury concerns over their two other main strike bowlers, Lungi Ngidi (side) and Kagiso Rabada (back), though both played in the warm-up win over Sri Lanka last week.

ICC World Cup 2019 | England aim to dominate South Africa in WC opener  

Branded as 'chokers' due to their failure to make the final despite making the knockouts of every edition they have participated in, the Faf Du Plessis-led side this time have one of the best bowling units of the tournaments but lack depth in their batting. In pacer Rabada, South Africa have one of the best in the business and the wily old fox Imran Tahir also adds variety with his deadly leg-spin.

As far as their batting is concerned, Du Plessis will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility along with stumper batsman Quinton de Kock. Hashim Amla's international career appears to be winding down as this could be his last World Cup.

Rassie van der Dussen has had a terrific rookie year so far, with four half-centuries in his first eight ODI innings. Aiden Markram, 24, has already captained South Africa, and 23-year-old Andile Phehlukwayo adds value in more ways than one, with his all-round capabilities.

There will be considerable focus on Steve Smith and David Warner as the pair are making a comeback into international cricket since their ball tampering scandal in Cape Town last year. Former Aussie skipper Smith was booed during a warm up game and this could be the norm as they look for their sixth title.

Overall, many experts have said this will be the most exciting World Cup in recent times with each of the ten teams playing each other in a marathon round robin format. Besides England, Virat Kohli's India and Aaron Finch's Australia are the other favourites with West Indies and New Zealand tipped as the dark horses.