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India have won all their three previous Champions Trophy clashes against South Africa Getty Images/AFP

Sri Lanka and Pakistan lie low at No.7 and No.8 respectively in the ICC ODI Rankings. In fact, Pakistan just managed to cling on to that spot to qualify for ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at the expense of West Indies. Therefore, when the draws were made for the tournament, this clash, India taking on South Africa was touted to be clash that would determine the top 2 spots among these sides from their Group. But as Indian captain Virat Kohli puts it, here are no guaranteed wins in this tournament Pakistan beating South Africa and Sri Lanka doing the same to India now means that The Oval clash is set to be a virtual quarter-final. Live cricket score: India vs South Africa, Champions Trophy 2017, Match 11 at The Oval

New Zealand and Australia (ICC ranked No.4 and No.2 sides respectively when the tournament began) have been knocked out of the Champions Trophy in the preceding two days. Making a mockery of the predictions, either India or South Africa, ranked at No.3 and No.1 respectively, will follow Oceania sides today.

Do India change their batting approach?

The norm in ODIs is you double up after 30 overs. India looked set for 340 against Sri Lanka at that stage. It was only a late blitz from Kedar Jadhav that saw them eventually breach the 320-mark. It was not enough. Sri Lanka made a mockery of the total. Even against Pakistan, India were going steady till Yuvraj Singh stepped out.

The cautious start and blitzkrieg at the end approach needs to be looked at. Against a quality side such as South Africa, every run scored will matter. The same applies to the opposition. Teams however have been cautious in the first 20 overs and it is unlikely to change.

England in Champions Trophy 2017

Against Score after 20 overs
Bangladesh 110/1 (chasing 306)
New Zealand 104/1
Australia 126/3 (chasing 278)

India in Champions Trophy 2017

Against Score after 20 overs
Pakistan 110/0
Sri Lanka 107/0

South Africa in Champions Trophy 2017

Against Score after 20 overs
Sri Lanka 90/1
New Zealand 78/3

Kohli does not believe going slam-bang in the first 20 overs. With field restrictions on, that too in English conditions, it is the right way ahead.

In the future, everything is possible. Looking at the conditions, if the wicket is good enough to go out and play aggressive cricket from ball one, then yes, I m sure teams are going to start to look at the first 20 as a big opportunity. And then maybe thinking the last ten overs are probably the toughest to score because there s one extra fielder out, and if the field is big then it becomes more difficult, said Kohli at the press conference. But I don t think in England anyone is going to try and do that because the conditions can go against you pretty quickly and you can lose wickets with the new ball. The trend I ve seen in every game is trying to get in first and then explode in the middle and the end. That s purely respecting the conditions that we re playing in.

If India happen to bat first again, 320 might not be enough, yet again.

Prior to the Sri Lanka clash, India had never failed to defend a total in excess of 320 and ahead of this tournament the pundits claimed that this is the best Indian bowling attack in years. This shows the nature of The Oval surface.

Sourav Ganguly knows a thing or two about defying conditions. In Leeds Test 2002, on a green surface, he went ahead and elected to bat, and also played two spinners. Ganguly mentions in his column for Times of India, From the start of the tournament, I have been harping on about India playing two spinners, and even after India beat Pakistan handsomely, I mentioned that the team management needs to find a way to include one more spinner. The pitches in England for the Champions Trophy have looked very flat, and though there has been a lot of rain, the nature of the pitches haven’t changed much. I have always believed that, with my past experience, on flat pitches India must play two spinners -they should keep in mind that Pakistan bottled up the South African batters with spin, and surely the Indian spinners are better than Hafeez, Imad, and the others.

Ravichandran Ashwin troubled the likes of AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock during South Africa s India tour in 2015-16. Ashwin in all likelihood will return to the XI. Also, the South African side has quality left-handers in de Kock, JP Duminy and David Miller in their ranks. The need of Ashwin increases in that case.

Kohli however remains non-committal till the last moment.

We definitely have looked at the last game and where we can make a bit of change. We ve already discussed those things, and I m not going to reveal anything now, but everything is possible. You can have any sort of combination possible for us, Kohli told the reporters.

South Africa much more than just AB

The other mistake that India will look to avert is focusing too much on de Villiers. South Africa are a balanced unit and even the likes of Amla and de Kock are well capable of inflicting serious damage.

South Africa have begun preparing for the Ashwin threat in the meantime.

I ll be expecting to see him (Ashwin) in the team tomorrow, so we are preparing. I can t say if we prefer to have to play against him or not. He s a great bowler. He s taken many wickets in the past and he s had success against us, as well, in India. But that s up for India to decide [whether to play him or not]. If he s in the team, we ll try our best to play well against him, de Villiers told reporters on the eve of the clash.

Kohli and de Villiers both agree that the calmer side will thrive in this crucial clash. South Africa s lack of ICC silverwares has often led to the questioning of leadership credentials. AB feels he is on track.

I think my captaincy is pretty good. I ve thoroughly enjoyed out there. Lost the last game, so that s never ideal for a captain. I understand what I m trying to do out there. I m really enjoying the captaincy. I think I make some good calls, de Villiers defended.

However it s results that will determine his legacy as South Africa s ODI captain. If he manages to win this clash, he will surpass Shaun Pollock as South Africa s third most successful captain after Hansie Cronje and Graeme Smith.

Likely XIs

If Ashwin comes in then in all likelihood Umesh Yadav will have to sit out. Despite his improvement in recent past, the pacer did not inspire enough confidence against Sri Lanka. India will be tempted to include Mohammed Shami as well. However, lack of match fitness could be held against him. He bowled well in the warm-up matches but his run-up suggested that he is still some distance away from 100 per cent. Also, Shami has not played an ODI since the 2015 World Cup.

India s probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah.

Despite their hiccup against Pakistan at Edgbaston, South Africa need not worry about their team composition. They are perhaps the most balanced side in the tournament. It is just their ability to absorb pressure in key games where the question mark can be drawn. Wayne Parnell may have got a three-for in London in less than two weeks back but he has not done enough since. Andile Phehlukwayo looks like an ideal replacement.

South Africa s probable XI: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (c), David Miller, JP Duminy, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

Pitch and conditions: We are set for a bright day in London, which rules out the possibility of a no result. Since the 2015 World Cup, the average score at The Oval stands at 332. In last 10 days, we have seen the ground register two top Champions Trophy successful run-chases of all time. It is safe to assume that another run-fest is on the cards.

Numbers tilted in India s favour

  • India have won all their three previous Champions Trophy clashes against South Africa. In fact in ICC ODI tournaments, India have won 8 of their 12 encounters against South Africa. India have won all of their last 4 games in ICC tournaments against South Africa with the last one being at Melbourne in 2015 World Cup.
  • Contrary to beliefs that Ashwin will change India s fortunes, the off-spinner has dismal numbers against South Africa. He averages 54.20 from his 6 games against this side. However, if we talk about the last 2 games that Ashwin has played against South Africa, his numbers read: 4 wickets at 13.75 and at an economy of 3.75.
  • Quinton de Kock has played 9 of his 84 ODIs against India and 5 of his 12 ODI hundreds have come against this side. De Kock averages 74.11 against India with his strike rate touching 98. As aforementioned, India cannot just concentrate on AB.
  • If Dhawan gets 32 and Kohli 61, they will reach the 1,000-run mark in ICC ODI tournaments. In doing so, they will join the illustrious India club of Sachin Tendulkar (2,719 runs), Ganguly (1,671 runs), Rahul Dravid (1,487), Virender Sehwag (1,232) and Yuvraj Singh.

Some stats inputs from Abhishek Kumar

Two of the finest batsmen, mutual admirers and great friends from the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) camp find themselves in unfriendly situations. Fans can expect a treat in this Kohli vs AB extravaganza. While AB has the experience advantage and found himself captaining in such situations before, this is Kohli s biggest game in his captaincy career.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah

South Africa: AB de Villiers (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Farhaan Behardien, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel

TIME: 10.30 Local Time | 15.00 IST