The 2019 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup gets underway this Thursday as South Africa faces the host nation England in a much-anticipated opening fixture.
Up against the number one ranked team in the tournament, Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis says England are a side that is constantly pushing the envelope but remains solid his boys are all geared up.
South Africa and England have met 59 times in the intermediate format of the international game.
The Proteas have won 29 and the English 26, with one tie and three no-results. Faf says they will fight fire with fire as they look to garner a 30th triumph.
Going into the tournament on an unusual position of underdogs, Du Plessis insists this is the perfect recipe for success.
Plenty of pressure awaits the Proteas who are constantly reminded of a history of four World Cup semi-final defeats.
In doing his best to take the hype out of the big opening game, Faf says the lads are under no pressure whatsoever.
In a World Cup expected to the dominated by batsmen, du Plessis says they are out to buck the trend with a bowling attack led by their dynamite weapon Kagiso Rabada.
The precociously talented Rabada has in recent times topped the bowling rankings in both Tests and ODI’s.
Plan A for South Africa was to have Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi into an attack together, throw in Imran Tahir and sit back, but with Steyn still nursing a shoulder injury that will not materialize.
Faf admits it’s a big loss but a perfect Plan B will be in motion.
An experienced campaigner, du Plessis is appearing in his third World Cup, but for many of the younger generation in the squad, this will be their first global showpiece and Faf is excited to see how they will fare.
Though their last warm-up match against The West Indies on Sunday was washed out due to rain, stalwart Hashim Amla stood head and shoulders above the rest on the day and du Plessis says his fine form bodes well for the side.
Faf is quick to remind all that the opener is just one game in a long tournament that will span over six weeks where the ten teams will play each other in a single round of matches, as was the case in the 1992 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The top four teams will then progress to the semi-finals. – Report by Tumi Gabonamong
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