India, Dhoni
India's Dhoni and Kohli run between the wickets against Pakistan during their Asia Cup One Day International cricket match in DhakaReuters

India will take on South Africa in the inaugural match of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy 2013 at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Thursday. It is the first match of Group B, which many termed as 'Group of Death'.

Overview:

South Africa won the inaugural Champions Trophy in 1998 while India and Sri Lanka were declared joint winners in 2002 after two wash outs.

South Africa are currently placed third in the ICC One Day International (ODI) ranking while they top the table in Test ranking. They lost to Pakistan by six wickets in the warm-up match but are a well-balanced team capable of beating any team.

India, the World Cup champions, come into the contest as the favourites. They are currently ranked No.1 in the ICC ODI ranking. They haven't played ODI overseas in the last 15 months but the way they convincingly beat Sri Lanka and Australia in the warm-up games leading up to the Champions Trophy matches will boost the confidence of the team.

Previous Meetings:

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South Africa have 4-2 win loss record against India in their six meetings in 2011. However, India have good record against the Proteas when it comes to Champions Trophy, winning both the encounters in the past.

Team News:

India: Taking his Indian Premier League (IPL) form into the warm-up games, Dinesh Karthik scored back-to-back centuries in the warm-up games. Virat Kohli also scored a century in the first warm-up match and skipper MS Dhoni scored 91 in the second game, giving a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming contests. They will be expected to deliver in the tournament. With batsmen like Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma in the line-up, India are no doubt one of the strongest batting sides.

On the bowling front, India have Ravichandran Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, R Vinay Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja. They don't have big names like other countries but managed to bowl out Australia for 65 in the warm-up match. They will be expected to carry the momentum into the tournament.

South Africa: The top-order collapse against Pakistan in the warm-up match will worry the team. It was Farhaan Behardien and JP Duminy who helped the team put up a total of 202. They have AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, David Miller, Francois du Plessis and Colin Ingram in the batting line-up. They will be expected to post a big total on the board to counter the strong Indian batting side.

On the bowling side, they have Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rory Kleinveldt and Ryan McLaren. Giving a big blow to their bowling attack, fast bowler Dale Steyn is doubtful of playing in the inaugural match against India after sustaining a side strain during the warm-up match against Pakistan at The Oval.

Prediction:

South Africa are a strong team but considering the currrent form, India are the favourites to win the first match of the Champions Trophy 2013.

Squads:

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra and R Vinay Kumar.

South Africa: AB de Villiers (Captain), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, JP Duminy, Francois du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Where to Watch Live

The match will kick off at 3:00 PM IST on Thursday and it will be telecast live on Star Sports channel. It will also be live streamed online on Star Sports official website.