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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Virat Kohli unwilling to take 'demoralised' South Africa lightly

Team India will kickstart its World Cup 2019 campaign with a match against South Africa, a team that has lost its first two matches and has also lost the services of premier pacer Dale Steyn due to an injury.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Virat Kohli unwilling to take 'demoralised' South Africa lightly
Virat Kohli at a practice session before the match against South Africa. (PTI Photo)

South Africa crashed in the opening match of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to hosts England before an upset defeat to Bangladesh in their second match of the tournament. Then came the news that menacing pacer Dale Steyn will miss the entire tournament due to an injury. Now, the team faces World No. 2 India in their third clash but rival skipper Virat Kohli has outrightly rejected the prospect of taking the team lightly.

Team India will kickstart its campaign in ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 against the Proteas on Wednesday and would be looking at collecting full points. The odds too are stacked in favour of the Men in Blue who have a renowned batting line-up and a bowling attack led by Jasprit Bumrah, the world's best bowler in ODIs currently. Kohli too is expected to grab the spotlight with his batting as well as his leadership - this is his third World Cup but the first as captain. On the eve of the match, he said that while his team is confident, underestimating South Africa would be a big folly. "Injuries are a part of the game and these things cannot be predicted. I am sure any team that gets hit with injuries, it is never a good thing but still, South Africa are a very talented, a very dangerous side on their day," he said. "Even with replacements, they would be a very strong side."

Kohli was referring to the injured Steyn who has now been replaced by left-arm pacer Beuran Eric Hendricks. While the South Africans could feel the pressure even more now that their premier fast bowler is out of action, Kohli said injuries in the rival camp are do not ensure possible success for his side. "We do not take anyone lightly, whether a few key players get injured or not. A youngster steps in and if he has the right mindset, he can really perform well on the day. We need to maintain respect for that."

The 30-year-old further said that it is important to focus on Team India's strengths rather than the weaknesses of rival teams.

India and South Africa face off at Rose Bowl in Southampton.