The West Indies have not defeated South Africa at a World Cup (WC) since spoiling the 2003 tournament opener in Cape Town with a three-run victory. They can break South African hearts once again by condemning the Proteas to an early elimination at the Rose Bowl on Monday.
Given that no score under 299 had been successfully defended in the UK in nearly five years (excluding rain-affected games) before this WC, the Windies could be forgiven for thinking they have thrown away a huge opportunity when failing to chase 289 at the high-scoring Trent Bridge.
No doubt that some questionable decisions were made during and before the loss to Australia: namely shifting Shai Hope back to three despite an average of 107 as an opener, giving the injured Andre Russell a five-over spell in the back-end of the innings, and the crucial run-out of Shimron Hetmyer just as he was warming up.
For the Proteas, it is now or never. Their worst ever start to a WC ensures that they will be requiring a minimum of five (potentially even six) victories from their remaining six matches to advance to the semi-finals.
While injuries to Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi have made life difficult with the ball, South Africa’s batting order have few excuses to offer for some lacklustre individual performances: just three individual half-centuries have been posted across three matches, with key batsman such as David Miller, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy all failing to do so.
They enjoy a dominant recent record over the ‘Men in Maroon’, having won 18 of the last 22 ODIs (T1, L3), though the teams have not met since June 2016.
SA vs WI – Probable XI
Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi
Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (wk), Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder (c), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell
SA vs WI – Players to watch out for
Is Quinton de Kock (SA) at risk of a form slump? He has failed to reach 30 in just four of 11 ODI innings this year – two of them in his last two appearances.
Shai Hope (WI) averages over 80 against spin in ODI cricket – his duel with Imran Tahir (and potentially Tabraiz Shamsi and/or JP Duminy) will be a key battle in this contest.
Seven of the last ten ODIs at The Rose Bowl have been won by the team batting first.
The average winning first innings score at The Rose Bowl is 299. Eight of the first ten CWC19 matches have been won by the favourites.
Just three of the first ten CWC19 matches have been taken out by the team who also won the toss.