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India vs South Africa: The 5-minute preview

India vs South Africa: The 5-minute preview
Context 
Team India comes into this match having won both their warm-up matches, the 243-run win against Australia suggesting this is a team in top form. However, the fact remains that in both these games, Dhoni’s side found themselves in huge spots of bother. The top-order looks particularly soft, and Dhoni will know that while his bowling attack isn’t as bad as it looked against Sri Lanka in Birmingham, neither is it as good as the Aussies made it seem.

South Africa, meanwhile, will be looking to get into the right frame of mind after being comprehensively outplayed by Pakistan in their only warm-up match (their first game was washed out).The fitness of Dale Steyn is however a worry for them. A short tournament format doesn't allow any room for slip-ups, and both teams will want to get off to a good start having being drawn in a tough Group B alongside Pakistan and West Indies.

Venue
The game will be played at the SWALEC Stadium, where India beat Australia by 243 runs on Tuesday. The Stadium has only hosted 10 International ODIs since 1999. You can watch a video of former England spinner Robert Croft giving us a tour of the venue here.

Pitch
Of the 16 wickets that fell on Tuesday, 14 wickets were taken by the seamers.  Umesh Yadav was the pick of the bowlers, with 5-18, suggesting that bowlers who bend their backs will get something out of the surface. This is better news for South Africa than India.

Probable XI
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.

South Africa: Hashim Amla, Alviro Peterson, Colin Ingram, AB de Villiers (c & wk), Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Ryan McClaren, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Key Battles
Indian openers vs South African Pacers
A lot will depend on how Vijay and Dhawan handle the likes of Morkel and Steyn. India can’t keep expecting their lower order to dig them out of trouble.

Strengths
India will be encouraged by Umesh Yadav’s performance in his only warm-up game, where he ran in hard, pitched the ball in the right areas, hit the deck hard and regularly clocked 140km/h. Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni are all in good nick as well.
South Africa, on paper at least, is one of the most well-balanced teams on view, even if the absence of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis leaves them a little light on the experience front. Their big strength remains their pace battery, which will be looking to make up for the no-show against Pakistan. 

Weakness
India’s biggest concern will be the top order not getting enough time in the middle, which means Vijay and Dhawan will need to be more disciplined up front.
South Africa, as mentioned before, look light on experience and though there is an abundance of talent, Smith’s and Kallis’s are big boots to fill.

Head to Head
India have beaten South Africa in both previous Champions Trophy encounters. Overall in one-dayers, the head-to-head record stands at India 24, SA 40, with 2 tied/abandoned matches.

Impact Players
Virat Kohli
Kohli’s 120-ball 144 while chasing a big score against Sri Lanka last week was as fine an effort as any in recent times. While Karthik is coming off back-to-back tons, it’ll be Virat that India will look to for inspiration.

AB de Villiers
South Africa’s wicket keeper and captain, AB de Villiers performance with the bat will be crucial, especially in the absence of two of their most experienced hands.