The Oval plays host to the opening contest of the 2019 World Cup with England facing South Africa who are enjoying a great spell of form.
Whilst the home side are rated as the best side in the world and favourites for the competition, South Africa have been victorious in nine of their eleven completed ODI matches during this calendar year.
South Africa not to be underestimated
The visitors boast no less than six players with over a century of ODI appearances, as Imran Tahir prepares for number 99.
Their preparations have been slightly hampered by rain, when the elements ended the warm-up contest with West Indies abruptly, but they did hammer Sri Lanka by 87 runs. Faf du Plessis showcased his talents with 88 from 69 whilst Andile Phehlukwayo secured four wickets in the contest.
Back in March, South Africa defeated Pakistan 5-0 during an ODI series on home soil. Particularly impressive during a spell of emphatic victories were du Plessis, who scored a 112 and 57, whilst Quinton de Kock smashed 121, 94 and 51.
The batting line-up looks strong but the bowlers have also been picking up regular wickets, led by seamer Kengiso Rabada and spinner Tahir. They bowled out Pakistan in all but one of the ODIs.
Roy in great form
England will be keen to get off to a good start but the revamped format gives them an opportunity to redeem themselves if everything goes wrong at The Oval. The 10-team league format will see the top four qualify for the semi-finals.
Opener Jason Roy could be key to their hopes against South Africa. He smashed 89 from 46 as England wrapped up victory against Afghanistan in just over a third of their allotted overs last time out. Roy also contributed 114, 76 and 87 as he won Player of the Series in a 4-0 ODI victory against Pakistan earlier in the month.
Like South Africa, England have enjoyed a great spell of recent form. However, they were humbled by Australia in between the Pakistan and Afghanistan contests.
One player who did impress during that injury-ravaged contest for the hosts was Liam Plunkett. The seamer is in the top three wicket-takers in the world since the last World Cup and picked up four to limit the Aussies to less than 300.
A match to remember?
This contest has all the hallmarks of an epic opening match for the 2019 World Cup. With three of the top ten ODI batsman, combined with the same number of highly ranked bowlers, there will be some real quality on show.
South Africa boast four of those stars in du Plessis, de Kock, Rabada and Tahir but can their entire eleven match the quality of England?
Time will tell but don’t be surprised to see both of these sides in the semi-finals later in the competition.