England's last World Cup campaign was embarrassing as they were knocked out of the tournament in the first round.
Since then, their transformation in white ball cricket has been remarkable, with Eoin Morgan's men climbing sitting at the top of the ODI rankings and twice setting a new record for the highest ODI total.
Batting has been the hallmark of England's ODI rejuvenated side, with Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Morgan and Jos Buttler among a top seven who can all swing the match in their way in a blink of an eye.
"It's an exciting feeling being in this team as you have world-class players all around you and the opposition might get 370, but there's a belief in the dressing room we can chase it down," said England leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
"There is no hesitation or someone going 'I don’t know about this'. We all have that belief and confidence we can do it," added Rashid, whose ability to take wickets at key stages has also been an important part of England's white-ball revival.
"We will hopefully stick to what we’ve been doing the past four years and hopefully the World Cup will work out well for us."
South Africa have suffered plenty of setbacks in the World Cup, having been on the losing side in four semi-finals.
But South Africa coach Ottis Gibson is certain the pressure is all on the hosts and referred to the comments made by England seamers Stuart Broad and James Anderson.
"I heard somewhere that my two very good friends Broad and Anderson have said that England will have to do something really bad not to win this World Cup," recalled Gibson, who served as England’s bowling coach.
"As far as they are concerned England have won it already."
Former West Indies fast bowler Gibson added: "To play the hosts, the number one team, is the best way to start, because it gives us a real sense of where we are and what we need to do going forward.
"But you don't have to be number one to win the tournament and sometimes you can win the tournament and you don't even go to number one."
South Africa, led by Faf du Plessis, are without ace batsman AB de Villiers but their top order includes the talented Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla.
They will be missing out on the services of veteran Dale Steyn on Thursday as the fast bowler nurses a shoulder injury.
But South Africa will be boosted by Kagiso Rabada, who has been declared fit following a back problem.