The ICC Champions Trophy 2013 is set to commence with the World Champions India taking on South Africa at Cardiff. It is a short tournament and all the clashes are between strong sides. Picking a winner isn’t the easiest task.
India head into this game with the confidence of two victories in the warm-ups. While their bowling was a concern after they conceded a big score against Sri Lanka, their brilliant performance against Australia would do wonders to their confidence. The batting has been good in both games, although there was a stutter in the second warm-up.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a few selection headaches. Dinesh Karthik has thrown his hat in the ring with two back-to-back centuries, both coming in tough situations. With Ravindra Jadeja set to play as the all-rounder at number seven, Dhoni can pick six specialist batsmen and it is possible that Rohit Sharma may miss out.
Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay would open the batting, but there would be a temptation to play Rohit — who performed the role for India in the past. Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Dhoni would complete the batting order with Jadeja to come at seven.
On the bowling front, Ravichandran Ashwin would be the specialist spinner. Umesh Yadav would play given his breathtaking spell against Australia. His presence adds the pace dimension to the line-up. Bhuvneshwar Kumar would be the trump-card as he can swing it in these conditions.
The third seamer’s spot is a bit of a toss-up between Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma. It looks like Ishant would make it as he also delivered a good spell against Australia.
South Africa come into another big tournament with the huge burden of history. They have to shed the infamous tag of “chokers.”
Graeme Smith is missing in action, which means that Alviro Peterson would open the batting with Hashim Amla. Colin Ingram would come in at number three, followed by AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis. There would be a race for the next two spots between David Miller, Farhaan Behardien and the all-rounder Ryan McClaren. McClaren may have his nose ahead given his all-round skill.
In the spin-bowling department, they have two left-armers to choose from. Aaron Phangiso and Robin Peterson would eye that lone spot.
The pace-bowling department is set as Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe would lead the way. There are some doubts over Steyn’s availability for this game as he suffered a side-strain.
Both sides would eye a good start to the tournament as it is all about momentum. Will the young side under Dhoni triumph or would South Africa reign supreme?