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England will put four years of planning to the test when they face South Africa in the opening match.

England will put four years of planning to the test when they face South Africa in the opening match of the 2019 World Cup at the Oval on Thursday.

So embarrassing was England’s first-round exit at the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand it prompted a major rethink of their attitude to the white-ball game.

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The transformation has been remarkable, with Eoin Morgan’s men climbing to the top of the one-day international rankings and twice setting a new record for the highest one-day international total, which now stands at 481 for six.

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England launch the World Cup as favourites to bludgeon their way to victory for the first time but will fear a Virat Kohli-inspired India and a hungry Australia.

The host nation have never won the tournament, with the last of their three losing appearances in the final coming in 1992, but there is a growing sense their current crop of players can end 45 years of pain.

Boasting a plethora of big-hitting white-ball specialists, England are the top-ranked team in the 50-over game, while Kohli’s India are also packed with superstars who have honed their skills in the Indian Premier League.

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