Your essential guide to the Proteas’ all-or-nothing Champions Trophy clash against India at the Oval on Sunday.
The Proteas and India were not expecting this situation. Comfortable victories in their opening matches gave the sense that Group B was all but wrapped up, but then Pakistan expressed their much-feared unpredictability, and Sri Lanka stunned the Indian bowling attack with a fearless display of top-order batting.
It’s a quarter-final; a pressure encounter that’s come a match earlier than they would’ve liked. But the sides can use this to their advantage. A semi-final clash against Bangladesh or Australia awaits them, and they’ll go in mentally ready for another tight performance.
The Proteas had the upper hand over India in their five-match ODI series in late 2015. Centuries from Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers led the visitors to a crushing 214-run victory, after posting a then record-equalling 438-4. However, there’s nothing quite like the occasion that comes with a major tournament, and India have had South Africa’s number in the group stages of the past two major events, including the 2013 Champions Trophy and 2015 World Cup.
Despite losing to Pakistan at Edgbaston on Thursday, the Proteas won’t feel like they’re out of form. With seven series victories out of their last nine, the side will consider the defeat a blip that wasn’t helped by the rain that fell after their miscalculated decision to bat first.
The big news is that AB de Villiers is fit to play, amid scares that a tight right hamstring pulled in the early stages of Pakistan’s innings threatened his selection. With scores of 4 and 0 so far, there’s no better occasion to set that minor blip right.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Only Timam Iqbal scored more runs after two round of the Champions Trophy than this man, and he just so happens to have scored centuries against the Proteas in those 2013 and 2015 group-stage victories. Not so long ago, Shikhar Dhawan wasn’t a certainty at the top of the order for India, but he’s found his touch again with 68 against Pakistan and 125 against Sri Lanka, with 136- and 138-run partnerships with Rohit Sharma. Whether India bat first or second, the Proteas will stand an excellent chance of victory if they can get on top of the openers from the get-go.
Quinton de Kock has been kept quiet in this tournament so far. Seeing off the first 10 overs on unpredictable surfaces is the way he’s been going about things with Hashim Amla so far, but unlike his partner, he’s failed to carry on and lift the tempo. De Kock was Man of the Match the last time these sides met, with his 109 in Mumbai in 2015. He’s South Africa’s Cricketer of the Year, and it’s at a big tournament like this where he’ll want to reflect all of the hard work he’s put in. This could be his last chance if he doesn’t put in a big performance.
It’s predictions at this stage, with neither Virat Kohli nor AB de Villiers giving any team news away. Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to make his first appearance, given his success against left-handers (the Proteas have three in their top six). Either Jasprit Bumrah or Umesh Yadav are likely to give way. Wayne Parnell is the only player unsure of his place in the side at this stage, and depending on the conditions, we will probably see Andile Phehlukwayo or even Keshav Maharaj come in to the side.
PROTEAS 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir
INDIA 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni, 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindran Jadeja, 9 Ravichandran Ashwin, 10 Bhuvneshawar Kumar, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
- This will be Yuvraj Singh’s 299th ODI
- In all ICC tournaments, including the World T20s, India have beaten South Africa eight times out of 12, including in each of their last four meetings.
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav don’t have a good record against South Africa: economy rates of 7.17 and 6.81 with averages over 50.
- Morne Morkel has got Shikhar Dhawan four times in 77 balls for 44 runs, Virat Kohli three times in 104 balls for 68 runs and MS Dhoni three times in 77 balls for 47 runs.
Kohli reflects on the occasion: For us as a team it’s an important game. It will be a great game to watch; you get to test how good you are in situations like this. I crave games like this. You want to be part of these games, it improves you as a cricketer.
Kohli on AB’s form: I empathise with him; I go through this a lot as well. You set standards for yourself and you get shocked. He tries to do something extra for his team and that’s the type of character he is. I know AB quite well and I know his mindset behind playing like that. On his day, when he’s in the mood, it doesn’t matter about what he’s done in the past. You have to find a way to get him out very quickly.
AB on his form: I’m still in good form; still hitting the ball well. There’s nothing I can say here that’s going to change anything except that I still believe I can perform and hopefully I’ll prove it tomorrow.
AB on his side’s chances: It’s really important to stay calm and not get over-excited; we all live for these moments and tomorrow will be one of those occasions. We must focus on why we’ve been successful for the last while. There’s a good energy and desire to succeed, so I’m expecting the same kind of intensity tomorrow.