Ahead of the make-or-break ICC Champions Trophy encounter between India and South Africa at The Oval in London, Jonty Rhodes spoke to the official broadcaster Star Sports about the contest. He shared the key members in both squads who are likely to make a difference after the first ball is bowled. Reckoned as one of the best fielders in the world in his day, Rhodes attributed Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Martin Guptill as three of the best fielders in the world at the moment.
Favourite India vs South Africa memory? The only one I can remember is when I caught Sachin Tendulkar in a game in Durban because every time I visit india, they tell me that ‘the catch that you caught Sachin, it bounced’. Otherwise, I forget everything, I’ve got very selective memory.
Top 3 fielders in the world at the moment? Currently, that’s pretty tough. India will probably have a couple. Suresh Raina is not playing in the ICC Champions Trophy but I love watching him. ‘Jaddu’ (Jadeja) is superb at backward point. His arm is deadly and very quick across the ground. I think Martin Guptill from New Zealand is right up there.
Players to look out for in India vs South Africa? Super Sunday is going to have an incredible array of international players who know how to play the game. From SSouth Africa’s point of view, Quinton de Kock has been undercooked, Hashim Amla is going to be a star, AB de Villiers is going to come good in the Super Sunday; I think those three from a batting point of view. Kagiso Rabada, he is going to be key for us against the great opening pair of India. For me, if Rabada doesn’t fire, we’re going to be in lots of trouble. And then Imran Tahir, not just in the field with his catches and run outs, but he is crucial in drying out the runs and taking wickets for South Africa.
For India, obviously, the opening pair (of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan) is important. They lay a platform for some very talented strokeplay in none other than Virat Kohli. He doesn’t always need a platform but if he does get going, South Africa will be in a lot of trouble.
Who has the edge going into it? The beauty about the Champions Trophy is that world rankings don’t matter after they’ve got you into the tournament. I think everyone expected India and South Africa to go through and it’s great. That’s why everyone has enjoyed this Champions Trophy despite the rain and interruptions. The fact that things have now become knockouts where its not just about Super Sunday and India vs South Africa but Pakistan and Sri Lanka are in the same boat. Who would have thought either of these teams would be going home on Monday?
How should india deal with Rabada? It might be interesting to see how India openers handle Rabada. Neither Rohit, Dhawan are scared to go after the bowling and they might go after him in two-three overs. He’s young and inexperienced so if they think counterattack is the way to go, it would be interesting to see how he reacts. He only burst onto the scene three years back. So far he’s been on top of the game and things have gone his way, but last match against Pakistan he was off in the freezing cold. So Indian batsmen might go for the counterpunch if they see off the first two-three overs.