The four-year wait is over. World Cup (WC) cricket returns with London’s historic Kennington Oval opening a UK WC for the first time. For the first time in 32 years, England go into a WC as the highest-ranked side in the world and will look to be the third consecutive host nation to win the title.
England’s domination of the 50-over scene has been well documented: they have won a staggering 77% of their ODIs in the two years leading up to this tournament – a figure which dwarfs the lead-up form enjoyed by the three previous WC winners in the same period.
They boast several batsmen who can accelerate an innings at the drop of the hat (Buttler, Bairstow, Stokes), in addition to a world-class bowling attack who have become home turf bullies in their own right.
The Proteas come into this fixture as one of just three WC participants to have won their last ODI encounter with England, having taken out a dead rubber at Lord’s in May 2017. A repeat of Kagiso Rabada’s performance – he claimed 4/39 in nine overs – would go a long way to seeing South Africa become the second nation to register consecutive ODI wins over England (anywhere in the world) since the beginning of 2017.
They would be desperate to shake the ‘choker’ tag but, having won six of seven ODI series played in the last 24 months, come into the tournament playing some attractive and confident cricket. There’s no better opportunity than now to begin correcting a record of just two wins from their last seven ODIs played in the UK.
ENG vs SA Probable XI
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (C), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett.
Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis (C), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir.
ENG vs SA ODI – Players to watch out for
Eoin Morgan (ENG) has had a hampered preparation, but has compiled more ODI runs at The Oval than any other player in history, posting three half-centuries in his last five innings on this ground.
Imran Tahir (SA) opened his 2015 WC with a three-wicket haul in the Proteas’ opening match and, given the tremendous IPL form he brings into this edition, will surely be key to South Africa’s chances of an upset.
The historical average for winning first innings scores at The Oval is 286; however, the last four teams to have won batting first at this venue have posted an average total of 347.
England have won 15 of their last 16 completed ODIs at home. England have won their last six ODIs at The Oval when also winning the toss.
The team chasing has won 13 of the last 19 completed ODIs at The Oval. Quinton de Kock’s ODI average of 45.56 climbs to 66.14 when batting against England.