LONDON – At 11.30am today, South Africa start their journey towards attempting to lift the World Cup with their opening match against hosts England at The Oval.
Although not considered by any means favourites to win the tournament, claiming the scalp of the English could be just the tonic for the Proteas to go on to greater things in England.
Here we look at the key match-ups which will define today's titanic encounter.
Lungi Ngidi v Johnny Bairstow
Ngidi is coming back from an injury, Bairstow from a stellar IPL campaign. Things could not be more different. But that will all mean nothing this morning when Ngidi is charging in.
Although English wickets have been batting paradises of late, the early start (10.30am local time) could provide some interesting challenges for the opening batsmen.
“It could be that every team is three down in the first 10 overs or four down,” England captain Eoin Morgan said. Bairstow will look to dispel those fears with a dominant display at the top of the order.
Quinton de Kock v Jos Buttler
There must be something about modern-day wicket-keeper/batsmen because they are all able to smash the ball to all parts. These two are no exception.
Buttler has “X-factor” written all over him and is the man who could take England to that mythical 500-run total. De Kock, meanwhile, is the mainstay of the Proteas' batting line-up. His simple approach of “see ball, hit ball” has proved awfully effective over the years.
Hashim Amla v Jofra Archer
It has been a few torrid months for Amla both on and off the field of play. But now back in England, he is back amongst the runs again. He is also back at his most beloved Oval.
Facing up to England newcomer Archer will be a stern test, though. The Barbados-born fast bowler barnstormed his way into the England squad through some sparkling performances in the various T20 leagues and he is now ready for the big time.
“Adding Arch to their team adds a different dynamic. He is a little bit different in terms of quite a slow-ish run-up and very quick arm action,” Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said of Archer's action. "The batters will take a few balls to get used to his action."@ZaahierAdams