Cardiff, June 5: Drawn in what is being dubbed as the Group of Death, India will look to carry forward the form they exhibited in the tournament's warm-up games as they lock horns with South Africa in the Champions Trophy opener, which will be their first match outside the sub-continent in 15 months.
With every game a virtual shootout, both the former winners will be eager to make a head start in the tournament which is being held for the last time.
As World Cup champions, India will have more than reputation to defend in the 50-over format contest. They have not played a limited over international outside the sub-continent in the last 15 months but the two big wins in their practice matches against Sri Lanka in Birmingham and Australia in Cardiff will give the Indian team management a fair idea of the conditions to confront.
India will also look to put behind them the recent spot-fixing scandal surrounding the IPL. Although history never counts in international cricket, India have a good record against South Africa in the Champions Trophy.
India lead 2-0 in head-to-head having won by 95 runs at Nairobi's Gymkhana ground on October 13, 2000 and by 10 runs at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium on September 25, 2002.
With two out of the four battle-hardened teams qualifying for the semifinals, all matches in group B are expected to be closely-fought affairs.
Except Pakistan, India, South Africa and the West Indies have won the Champions Trophy at least once each and hence more than just pride will be at stake in the last edition of the tournament that began as the Mini World Cup in Dhaka in 1998.
South Africa also arrive with a lot of reputation to protect. They are the world's No. 1 Test team but their ODI fortunes have been scratchy and it showed during the one-off warm-up game they played against a talented Pakistani attack on Monday.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, R Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Irfan Pathan, Rohit Sharma.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, David Miller, Colin Ingram, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Ryan McLaren, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Rory Kleinveldt, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Farhaan Behardien.
Umpires: Ian Gould (England) and Bruce Oxenford (Australia)
Third umpire: Rod Tucker (Australia)
Match Referee: Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe)
Match starts at 3PM IST