Dharamsala: Having suffered a series-sweep at the hands of New Zealand, Team India would look to make amends when they take on a confident South African outfit in the first ODI of the three-match series at the HPCA Stadium on Thursday.
India and South Africa have had contrasting fortunes in their most recent ODI series. While the Proteas swept Australia aside in the three-match ODI series at home – their first win in seven series across formats since the 2019 World Cup — India were beaten by the same margin in their three ODIs against the Kane Williamson-led Kiwi side.
The hosts will be without the services of Rohit Sharma who is still battling a calf injury, thus putting extra responsibility on skipper Virat Kohli who had a horrible New Zealand tour — one of the main reasons why India failed to win the ODIs and the Tests against the Black Caps.
K.L. Rahul and Shreyas Iyer were in great form in New Zealand and have solidified their place in the team. They both will be a certainty while the series will present another opportunity for Rishabh Pant and Manish Pandey to keep themselves in the mix.
In Rohit’s absence, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill will fight it out to join Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. Dhawan, who missed the entire New Zealand tour, will want to perform to make sure he make his case stronger for the T20 World Cup later in the year.
For India, the series will hold importance in the sense that Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneswar Kumar will both be making a comeback after their long injury lay-offs.
The Proteas, on the other hand, would be feeling a lot more confident, especially considering the performances of Janneman Malan, Heinrich Klaasen and Jon Jon Smuts who scored big in the home triumph against Australia. However, what the visitors would desperately want is that their experienced duo of skipper Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis perform well.
In the bowling front, they might seem a little short on experience because of Kagiso Rabada’s absence. However, they would bank upon Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje to replicate their home performance and create problems for the Indian batters.
“We have just beaten a very good team now. We needed confidence and it will certainly give us a lot of confidence. India is going to be a tough test. Lot of guys haven’t played a lot of cricket in India. What’s impressive is guys have responded to the messages we have sent out to them on batting and bowling perspective,” said South Africa head coach Mark Boucher and he would want his troops to replicate their Australia performance against the Men in Blue.
Squads: India: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (c), K.L. Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c), Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lundi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj