Champions Trophy: India v South Africa

Batsman hits ball

Sunday will bring an intriguing quarter-final, of sorts, with the defending champions set to take on a Proteas XI without a major ICC tournament title in almost 20 years.

A win for either side will set up a big-ticket semi-final against one of Group A's top two teams, while the loser will be left to lament what could have been.

India v South Africa | Sunday, 11 June 2017 | The Oval, London | 11:30

To Win Match
India 82/100 | Tie 35/1 | South Africa 1/1

India
While skipper Virat Kohli will be smarting from the duck he suffered against Sri Lanka, the Indians boast the marvelously in-form Shikhar Dhawan. The hard-hitting opener now brags the equal most Champions Trophy centuries, three, from a mere seven innings - far less than it took South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs, India's Sourav Ganguly and West Indies' Chris Gayle to reach the same milestone.

It'll be very surprising if India opt for an unchanged XI again. The most likely change seems replacing fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah with seamer Mohammad Shami. Bumrah's bowling at the death has been superb, but his lengths during other parts of the innings haven't been exemplary. Alternatively, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin could come in for all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.

Jadeja's presence, though, offers a genuine depth to the batting order, with the pinch-hitting left-hander coming in at eight. His absence would leave a lot more responsibility with the bat for fellow all-rounder Hardik Pandya. That said, Kohli evidently enjoys opting for specialists rather than all-rounders.

The Proteas were genuinely troubled by the pace generated by Pakistan right-armer Hasan Ali and left-armer Mohammad Amir's taxing angles. India's Umesh Yadav and co-new ball bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be determined to follow suit. The rest of the attack must fall in line, too, so Kohli doesn't have to call on himself and another part-timer, Kedar Jadhav, again.

The Indians have won less than 40 percent of their 76 ODIs against South Africa and lost a home series to them earlier this year, but triumphed the last time the teams met at a neutral venue, like they will on Sunday. That victory, too, was built on the back of a flamboyant century from Dhawan.

South Africa
In a short, sharp competition with little room for hiccups, the Proteas characteristically spluttered through a difficult win over Sri Lanka - and rain-affected defeat to Pakistan - and now have a must-win showdown against India on their hands. Their captain is struggling, their bowling attack is muddled - and public demand dictates swift correction.

Like Kohli, the talismanic AB de Villiers suffered a duck in his last match. The hero of millions has quickly become the zero of several, with questions hanging over his peculiar field placements and arguably ill-timed bowling changes, too. The man could do no wrong, but now seemingly can do liitle right - and is nursing a slight hamstring injury. Sunday's showcase will be a serious test of his mettle.

Amid de Villiers' struggle for runs, gratefully for Proteas fans, the left-handed David Miller continues to come to the party. He was amiss at number six in the order for several seasons - and this newfound success at five is good to see. Sporting a nominally smaller strike rate at five, but a substantially bigger average, the Proteas will be happy to overlook the former for the latter.

Selection-wise, now is as good a time as any to draft in all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo, probably at the expense of the costly Wayne Parnell. Phehlukwayo boasts an X-factor entirely required at this stage of the tournament, with a quick burst with bat or ball able to take the game away from the opposition. Alternatively, he could play ahead of Chris Morris.

Whatever the composition of the Proteas lower middle order will be, it must be ready to pounce on India's bowling frailties exposed against Sri Lanka. Their five specialist bowlers didn't have enough in the tank, with two rank part-timers required to make up some numbers. It didn't work - and is an area for Parnell/Andile Phehlukwayo and Morris to capitalise, if the top order didn't.

Verdict: South Africa 1/1
South Africa's individual and collective fragility is creeping up on them, but they'll look to shrug this off, win the toss and bat second amid the threat of rain this time - and upend India's quest for a second successive title.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for @Hollywoodbets.net

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