CARDIFF (Sporting Alert) — The 2013 ICC Champions Trophy bowls off on Thursday with India, one of the tournament favourites and South Africa kicking things off at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
Both sides will be without several of their usual super stars and experienced players, but the match up is still expected to be a very exciting one.
Visibly missing in India from the side that won the 2011 World Cup tournament, including champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, as well as former strike bowlers Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
For South Africa, all rounder Jacques Kallis will also be missing from the line up.
Expected to get a place in the starting team for India is Dinesh Karthik, who has impressed recently with superb centuries in warm-up matches.
“I always believe he’s someone who can bat really, really well in the middle of the order,” said captain MS Dhoni. “The reason being he’s a good runner.
“He reads the situation pretty well, and he’s someone who can look to go on and play big innings, and that is what is really important in the middle order. You have to get off to a good start.
“He’s technically sound, which means he has all the right talent to get going, and once he gets going, he’s someone who keeps himself busy throughout the innings.
“So I personally feel he’s someone who is really good to have in the site.”
India has not lost to South Africa in ICC Champions Trophy action and Dhoni has no intentions of making Thursday’s clash being the first time.
He also warns his fellow teammates not to ride their luck on stats, but rather to go out and win.
“As I always say, it is a fresh start, so we have to do all the right things right again,” the wicketkeeper/batsman said.
“So we hope it goes in our favor, but just because a fact is in our favor doesn’t really mean we’ll win the game.”
FORM NOTE: India has won four of its seven One Day Internationals in 2013, while South Africa won five of its nine matches on the year.
South Africa (likely): Hashim Amla, Alviro Petersen, Colin Ingram, AB de Villiers (captain, wicketkeeper), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Ryan McLaren/Farhaan Behardien, Robin Peterson, Rory Kleinveldt/Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel.
India (likely): Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Umpires IJ Gould and BNJ Oxenford
TV umpire RJ Tucker
Match referee AJ Pycroft
Reserve umpire BF Bowden