England are favourites to win the World Cup, but had something of a slip-up in their warm-up match against Australia, when two bowlers were injured and everything seemed to go wrong, yet they still only lost by the narrowest of margins, before coming back strongly against lowly Afghanistan. Alex Hales has been taken out of the original squad due to recreational drug use with West Indian born and bred Jofra Archer coming in to replace him, someone who, under previous rules, would not have been eligible.
South Africa only had one match, against probably the worst team in the tournament in Sri Lanka, but they won it well, and were well ahead of West Indies until rain came. West Indies, of course, handily beat New Zealand, who easily beat India, who easily beat Bangladesh, putting South Africa right up there as one of the best performing teams. South Africa’s bowling stocks are incredible, though their batting is lacking somewhat, and their form is incredible. Most people are predicting them to make the semi-finals at least, but whether they go further depends on whether they are still chokers. The absence of Dale Steyn for this match due to injury may hurt South Africa, but they have plenty of younger players to replace him.
Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) Lungi Ngidi is going to terrorise
The young quick is in many ways the replacement for the other young quick Kagiso Rabada who is a replacement for the now older quick Dale Steyn, and there’s a lot more where that came from. The thing about Ngidi is that he isn’t really known, yet he is just as capable of taking 6 wickets in 10 overs as any of the others. The surprise factor is great.
(2) England’s top order will fail
While they do fight right down to number 11, I am picking them to fall apart at the top, and to be chasing their tail, forever trying to come back.
(3) South Africa’s top order will fail too
While someone might do well, with Faf du Plessis the man most likely, against a strong bowling line-up they are going to struggle.
(4) It is going to be low scoring
500? Nah. 400? Nope. 300? Unlikely. Try 230. While South Africa’s bowling line-up is good enough to bowl any team out cheaply, England’s is good enough against South Africa’s weaker batting to get them restricted to a low total too.
(5) It’s going to be close but South Africa will win
Picking the winner for this one is tough and it could go either way. One dropped catch here, one missed runout there, one wasted review, one review not taken, could be the difference between the two sides, just like how that was the difference between Australia and India in the first test in Adelaide, when a failure to review a poor decision cost Australia the match and, ultimately, the series. Whoever wins is going to make it sound like they deserved it, but this one is going to come down to luck. Seeing how England went against Australia, I’d say that they are missing that luck, and that tells me South Africa will reap the rewards.
This one is going to be good.