If this was the first match of the World Cup proper, I’d be thinking that this was pretty tough to pick. India are 2nd favourites while South Africa are 4th, but South Africa were more impressive in the warm-ups, after New Zealand comfortably beat India. But now things are different, as South Africa lost to Bangladesh, who in turn were beaten comfortably by India in their warm-up match. So surely that means that India will win, right? But that’s assuming it wasn’t an upset. If you think that that is how South Africa are going to play in every match, then India should win, but with Amla and Steyn expected to return for this match, and South Africa surely not going to repeat the mistake of playing an extra bowler and then not using Lungi Ngidi, it’s very different. The question is whether South Africa have the inner fortitude to win, or whether they will simply crumble. India are known for taking advantage of teams who are mentally suffering, so this could be a game decided in the minds as much as on the field.
Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) Virat Kohli will star
India have been accused of being a one-man team for a long time now, with Virat Kohli now effectively replacing the one-man team that was Sachin Tendulkar. If he succeeds, India do well, but if he fails then they tend to struggle. They still can win without him, but it’s a lot harder. Just the same, he usually does well, so I think he will.
(2) Jasprit Bumrah will star
The guy has been in consistently good form in almost every match for India, so much so that they have claimed that they have a good pace bowling attack. While it’s probably not really true, at least outside of India, Bumrah at least is right up there with the best bowlers going around, and, with South Africa licking their wounds after their shock loss to Bangladesh, they could well suffer by Bumrah as well.
(3) South Africa’s fast bowling will fire
I am not expecting them to use Aiden Markham to replace Lungi Ngidi again, giving up on one of their big fast men for a part-timer on the basis of 4 overs, nor am I expecting them to fail again.
(4) South Africa will play Amla and Steyn
They both could have played against Bangladesh but were left out for precautionary reasons. Staring at 0-2 and a chance to be 0-3 after this match, they are standing at the precipice and that’s not a situation where you leave your most experienced batsman and most experienced bowler out. 6-3 is probably the scenario to qualify for the semi-finals, and if South Africa lose here they will go to 0-3.
(5) I refuse to pick a winner
If I pick South Africa and they lose, then I’ll be told that I am just pro-South Africa, while if I pick India and they lose, then I’ll be told that I don’t know cricket. Critics can be pretty stupid and bitterly unfair. Anyway I would have picked South Africa pre-tournament and one upset shouldn’t change things that much. While India are certainly a chance, I think South Africa should win this.
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