Possibility of achieving the top spot should be added motivation for the team
Galvanised by the consolatory win in the final Test, a resurgent India will be aiming for its first bilateral ODI series triumph on the South African soil when it takes on the Proteas in a six-match rubber, starting here on Thursday.
With only 14 months to go for the 2019 ODI World Cup, India will also look to kick off its preparations in earnest during the series.
India has previously lost 5-2 in 1992-93, 4-0 in 2006- 07, 3-2 in 2010-11 and 2-0 in 2013-14. It was also part of two triangular series in 1996-97 and 2001-02, featuring Zimbabwe and Kenya respectively, but the Proteas emerged victors on both occasions.
India’s ODI record against South Africa in South Africa is heavily skewered.
In 28 meetings since 1992-93, the Proteas have won 21 matches, while India has only won five.
Additionally, India has a very lop-sided record at Durban. In seven ODIs against South Africa at this venue, since 1992-93, it has lost six with one no-result.
At stake, is the No.1 spot in ICC’s ODI rankings. Currently, South Africa sits atop with 120 points while India is second with 119 points.
A 4-2 series’ win will be enough to help India achieve the No.1 spot.
This should be motivation enough for Virat Kohli and Co., particularly as they will be taking the momentum into this ODI series.
winning 24 out of 32 bilateral matches.
On Wednesday, the pitch bore a brownish look ahead of the game, in keeping with the rainfall Durban has received of late.
Showers are forecast for Thursday’s game as well. It might have a bearing on how many spinners India go in with.
If the visitor plays only a lone spinner, Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav could get the nod ahead of both Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal, to counter the threat of David Miller and J-P. Duminy in the middle-order.
Only one spinner would also mean that Kedar Jadhav is assured of a starting spot, thanks to his part-time bowling.
Zondo likely to debut
South Africa too, meanwhile, has an eye on the upcoming World Cup. AB de Villiers is set to miss out the first three ODIs due to an injured right index finger.
Farhan Behardien is usually its go-to batsman in such situations, but he wasn’t called up on this occasion.
Durban-born batsman Khayelihle Zondo can expect to make his debut instead.
The teams: (from):
India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (Capt.), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), J-P. Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi and Khayelihle Zondo.