Unbeaten table-toppers India will be up for another litmus test when they take on second-placed South Africa in the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup fixture at Eden Gardens, Kolkata on Sunday.
India defeated Sri Lanka by a massive 302 runs to become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals on Thursday. Temba Bavuma’s men will be looking to replicate that and overcome, perhaps, their biggest challengers in the tournament.
India have managed to win each of their seven matches this tournament – all convincingly. But South Africa were stunned by Netherlands earlier in what was their only loss in the tournament so far. It is unlikely, but India could rest some of its key players until the semi-finals.
So far, South Africa has proved to be one of the tournament’s most dangerous sides. Almost every batter in the top six is playing well but Quinton de Kock, who has four centuries and 545 runs in seven matches, appears to be in top form.
Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, and Heinrich Klaasen have also contributed significantly to the team’s batting success. Their bowling attack has also been led well by Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee, Keshav Maharaj, and Kagiso Rabada.
South Africa have won five of its six matches batting first, each by more than 100 runs. Meanwhile, India have won five games batting second, but they have also demonstrated supremacy when defending against England and Sri Lanka. This is going to be a delicious contest.
Conditions and pitch report
The Eden Gardens promise excellent batting conditions, a lightning-quick outfield, and possibly some dew. Sunday is going to be a hot afternoon at 31 degrees with a high humidity of 60 percent.
In the first game at this venue this World Cup, Dutch player Paul van Meekeren’s performance against Bangladesh seemed to suggest that it was two-paced and would encourage pacers. Shaheen Afridi and the other Pakistani pacers made great use of it in the next match to restrict Bangladesh to just 204.
India’s bowling attack has looked world-class so far and Eden Gardens would be just another platform to showcase their mettle.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock, the leading run-scorer of the tournament, is the man in form. With four centuries under his belt, he has equalled Kumar Sangakkara’s record at the World Cup and seems to be closing in on Rohit Sharma’s record of five centuries. Against India, he has scored 1072 runs and averages 56.42. If India get de Kock out early, that’s quarter of the battle won.
India: Kuldeep Yadav was the leading wicket-taker when South Africa toured India in 2022. He had picked up six wickets in three matches including a four-wicket haul. At this venue, Yadav has picked up six wickets in two matches and has plenty of experience playing here during his time with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
In the tournament so far, he has picked up 10 wickets and has looked steady. Even though the games so far have shown pacers are likely to dominate at the Eden Gardens, he will be aware that he has the opportunity to go all out.
Last five meetings
October 11, 2022 – India won by 7 wickets
October 09, 2022 – India won by 7 wickets
October 06, 2022 – South Africa won by 9 runs
January 23, 2022 – South Africa won by 4 runs
January 21, 2022 – South Africa won by 7 wickets
Overall in World Cup
India: 2 wins
South Africa: 3 wins
No result: 0