Kennington Oval, London

The Oval Ground is an international cricket ground in Kennington, South London. The Oval has been the home ground of Surrey County Cricket Club since its inception and is the first ground to host international test match. It’s most recently famous for hosting the final of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 which features India taking on Pakistan. Pakistan thrashed India in the final to win yet another ICC event. Although the Oval is not hosting the final of this year’s WC but it will certainly witness some high stakes matches which will shape the course of this tournament.

History:

The Oval Ground was established in 1845 in Kennington, London and since then has witnessed international matches of all formats of the game. It is credited for hosting the first ever international test match in 1880. ODI cricket was introduced in this ground in 1973 and since then England have competed against many nations in ODI matches both in bilateral series as well as ICC events. Throughout history, this ground has hosted a series of ODI matches whose details are given below:

  • ODI Matches: 68
  • Matches won by team batting first: 30
  • Matches won by team batting second: 38
  • Recent significant event: Final of CT 2017

Pitch and Weather Conditions:

The pitch in this ground is unlike the traditional English pitches. Although the English pitches favor seam bowling and pace attacks, the Oval pitch provides some support for leg-spinners. This is evident from the fact that during the final of CT 2017, Shadab Khan beautifully and picked up crucial wickets of Indian middle-order batsmen. Top class leg-spinners like Imran Tahir and Rashid Khan will be looking to exploit this advantage.

As for the weather, nothing can be said beforehand. Traditionally, the weather at the Oval is dry and not much rain is expected here. The ball comes nicely on the bat and it’s a good track for batting. A good option would be to bat first and post a solid total for the bowlers to defend.

Significance in upcoming World Cup:

It begins where it ended. The final of the last ICC event was held at the Oval so it is befitting that the inauguration of the next ICC event should be held at the same venue. Although there is no semi-final or final scheduled to be played here but this venue will witness some monumental matches. A list of all the matches to be held here is given below:

  • England vs. South Africa (Inaugural Match, 30th May)
  • South Africa vs. Bangladesh (2nd June)
  • New Zealand vs. Bangladesh (5th June)
  • India vs. Australia (9th June)
  • Australia vs. Sri Lanka (15th June)

5 matches are scheduled to be contested at this venue and this list contains some huge matches. The inaugural match itself is a clash of the titans when two of the most underrated teams SA and England square off against one another. India and Australia are two favorite teams heading into the WC and they’ll go head-to-head at the same venue. These two matches will be high stakes and if all teams perform well, this will certainly provide some exciting matches. SA have two matches scheduled here and if they have Imran Tahir as a part of their playing XI, it will benefit the SA side as the pitch favors leg-spinners. The match between England and South Africa and India and Australia are what fans will be looking forward to. Rest of the matches seem pretty straight forward wins for SA, NZ and Australia because Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have not been performing upto mark. They’ll most likely lose their matches against top tier teams.

Conclusion:

The Oval will provide scintillating matches from the start of the WC. SA and England will be competing in the first match. Both teams are hunting their first world title so there’s no margin of error. SA is scheduled to face Bangladesh in the 2nd match to be held here which will be an easy win for SA. NZ are most likely to defeat Bangladesh but Australia and India will provide an exhilarating contest. Australia is likely to beat SL as well. Overall, only two matches look interesting for this venue. The matches contested here will provide a glimpse of who might be making their way into the semi-finals.

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