After registering a superb win in the final Test in the three-match series against South Africa, a resurgent India will be aiming to start brightly in limited overs cricket. South Africa and India are pitted for a blockbuster encounter at the Kingsmead in Durban in first of the six-match ODI series on Thursday.
With the ICC ODI World Cup next year, this series is all about preparation for the coveted tournament as it gives them an opportunity to lay a foundation for the same.Virat Kohli’s side have plenty of limited overs cricket in their kitty ahead of the next big Test assignment against England in August 2018.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 30, 2018
The run of matches in overseas conditions, in South Africa and England, will allow the Indian team management to identify the needs of the side and also help them to choose players for certain spots. Kohli will be eager to show that his side has what it takes to come out on top against a famed Proteas unit.
India’s ODI Series in South Africa
- 1992-93: Lost 2-5
- 2006-07: Lost 0-4
- 2010-11: Lost 2-3
- 2013-14: Lost 0-2
India have never won an ODI against South Africa at the Kingsmead in Durban and therefore beginning well will be crucial for the side. The hugely anticipated battle between the No. 1 and the No. 2 side in the world will generate plenty of attraction and if India can come out victorious, they could be in the summit of the ICC Rankings.
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Kohli has been in prime form and has led his side well off late. Since losing 4-1 in Australia (January 2016), the Men in Blue haven’t lost a single bilateral ODI series, home or away. In this period, they have beaten Zimbabwe, New Zealand (twice), England, West Indies, Sri Lanka (twice) and Australia.
Their only tournament loss came in the 2017 Champions Trophy (in England), where they lost to Pakistan in the final.
STAT ATTACK: India have won 24 out of the last 32 bilateral matches.
Team selection and News
India will be banking heavily on ‘Hitman’ Rohit Sharma upfront who has been in superb form off late. The ODIs are Rohit’s territory and his presence is very vital for the team to lay a solid foundation atop. With Kohli and MS Dhoni there in the middle, the side boasts of experience in abundance.
Dhoni was seen practicing at the nets and him being in good touch with the bat will be vital.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 31, 2018
Meanwhile, Shreyas Iyer gave a good account of himself, scoring two half-centuries in three matches against Sri Lanka, and is a front-runner for a place in the side. Iyer will be raring to have a go and build on the success at home.
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India is spoilt for choices surrounding Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey. Also Kedar Jadhav could also be looked upon, thanks to his part-time bowling. And that could lead to a three-way battle between the trio with Hardik Pandya assured of a place as the side’s all-rounder.
In the spin department, India have Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal and only one of them is likely to get a look in. Kuldeep is more likely to get the nod ahead o counter the threat of big-hitting left-handers David Miller and JP Duminy in the middle-order.
Kohli’s pace quartet enjoyed a solid show in the Test series with their frontline pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah being exceptional. The trio are straight choices and bowling at the death will be the key with South Africa’s prowess in the finishing role.
The Proteas suffered a big blow with talisman AB de Villiers set to miss out the first 3 ODIs due to an injured right index finger (sustained during the third Test). Durban-born batsman Khayelihle Zondo can expect to make his debut in place of AB.
Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock could go in as openers and Aiden Markram may get another opportunity in the middle-order. The Test opener had scored 66 in his ODI debut against Bangladesh at East London (October 2017).
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The Proteas are expected to go in with only spinner — Imran Tahir. The veteran leg-spinner will look to come in handy and excel at home to keep his side in the hunt. Chris Morris too will be a crucial player given his all-round skills. The trio of Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada will fill up the space as the side’s trio of pacers.
Pitch and conditions
There will be plenty for the pacers and both sides will be eager to field exciting combinations. On the weather front, showers are forecast for Thursday’s game as well.
India; Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo.
Match starts at: 4.30 pm IST.