We’re already well into the thick of this Cricket World Cup and today we get to see India, tournament second favourites, for the first time. It is a sign of how long this tournament is that we’ve seen South Africa twice before we’ve set eyes on the tournament second favourites but Star don’t expect that to make much of a difference with India 4/9 to get off to a flyer.
That might have something to do with South Africa’s two defeats but taking a short price on India to make it three is not something that appeals. Pakistan’s entirely deserved victory against England showed how quickly teams can change their form and upset the odds, and for all that they’ve disappointed so far, there’s enough quality in the Proteas to make a decent game of this, at the very least, if they turn up on form.
The blow of missing Lungi Ngidi, sidelined after suffering a hamstring strain in Sunday’s defeat against Bangladesh, is a serious one. Ngigdi took three wickets against England and his absence leaves them one short in the bowling stakes against India’s fine crop of fast bowlers, led by Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. Those three give them an fighting chance of going all the way in English conditions and the formidable top three of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli can provide the fireworks too and it is Kohli who could provide an a betting angle into this game.
Kohli, in his first 50-over World Cup as captain, is the key to India’s batting, with his 10,843 runs in 227 ODI matches at an average of 59.57, and the 11/4 on him being top batsman for India looks very fair.
In the bowling aspects, spinners could make a big impact. Ngidi’s absence increases the pressure on South Africa’s bowling options and Imran Tahir, who has taken 2-61 and 2-57 in the Proteas first two games, could shine with the ball again.
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