It’s ironic that despite appearing in three Cricket World Cup finals – in 1979, 1987 and 1992 – the English team is yet to get its name imprinted on the World Cup trophy. If we talk about overall performance at the World Cup, England team has won 41 out of 72 matches till date. With 15 wins out of the last 19 matches, current World No. 1 ODI team tag, and recent ODI whitewash of Pakistan, England team is raring to go for the illusive Cricket World Cup trophy. After the Women’s’ Cricket World Cup triumph (2017) and Football team’s performance at last year’s FIFA World Cup, there is much expectation from England team at Cricket World Cup. Moreover, apart from being the hosts, the team is also embracing the hype it has created with the recent performances. England captain said recently – “The level of expectations and favorite tags are there for a reason. Over the last 2 years, our form at home, in particular, has been outstanding. That’s the reason the expectations are there”.
After last World Cup debacle, where it failed to reach even the Quarterfinals, England team led by Eoin Morgan, has worked really hard to turn the side into World No. 1 ODI team. The solid batting strength includes the likes of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jose Butler. Bowling line-up includes Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and the new sensation – Jofra Archer. Allrounders like Ben Stokes, Tom Curran and Moeen Ali give the team plenty of options. England team is looking forward to starting its World Cup campaign at the Oval today on a winning note. The Oval has been one of the scoring grounds for Eoin Morgan as well as Joe Root.
On the other hand, South Africa has always been a team capable of winning the World Cup since the team was reinstated into ICC, and its first appearance in 1992 World Cup. From 1992, South Africa has played 55 matches at the World Cup while winning 35. However, despite being a strong contender every time, they could never manage to reach even a single final. Hence the team carry the crucified title of ‘chokers’. As fans say – South Africa will always find a way to not win a World Cup. However, this time, the scenario is different. With the absence of charismatic player like AB de Villers and recent injury to Dale Styen, the expectation from this South Africa team is at an all-time low. Additionally, with aging players like Hashim Amla (36), Duminy (35), Imran Tahir(40) and captain Faf du Plessis(34), the team has plenty of problems to deal with. Although the batting line-up has ODI run machines like Amla, Quinton de Kock, du Plessis, they have a weaker middle order and the form of Markram, Duminy and David Miller is a cause of concern.
The team fares well in the bowling department though, with the presence of young guns like Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Phehlukwayo. Presence of Imran Tahir, one of the most successful spin bowlers in the World Cup history (29 wickets in only 13 matches with an incredible average of 16.31) will certainly add to the arsenal of South African team. South Africa would like to continue its current winning streak. The green and lively surface of the Oval is what their pacers will be going to enjoy against the hosts, if they win the toss and opt to bowl first. It is likely to be a good batting track as the match progresses. South African captain du Plessis has said – “England are the favourites, hence there will be less pressure on us, which can enable us to play freely. We are going as underdogs and it is great if it releases pressure from players.” A close contest is on the cards to start the 12th edition of ICC Cricket World Cup.