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The Indian team will enter the ODI series against South Africa full of confidence after pulling of a historic win in the third Test match at Johannesburg. The hosts will have to be wary of India’s threat in the 1st ODI of the 6-match ODI series, given that Indian cricket team’s key players are much better suited for the shorter format. Players like Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, who struggled hugely in the test series will be itching to get back on the field and display some good cricket, to contribute to Team India’s cause.
The conditions at Durban for the 1st ODI will be similar to the one Indian batsmen experienced during the test matches. However, the difference now is that India can bat positively and rather than getting bogged down by the South Africa bowlers, they can actually look to put South Africa under some pressure while piling quick runs on the scoreboard.
This is a 6 match ODI series, which would mean some sort of rotation in the later stages but India will be looking to put their best XI out on the park for the 1st ODI, in order to gain that early momentum, which is crucial in cricket.
Here we look at India’s Predicted Starting Lineup for the 1st ODI of the 6-match ODI series:
Shikhar Dhawan struggled hugely in the 1st test match on this tour and was subsequently dropped for the remaining test matches. The 32-year-old will be looking to get some big runs in the shorter format, where he was pretty successful in 2017, scoring 960 runs at an average of 48. If the form doesn’t get better for the left-hander on this tour, we might very well see Kohli bringing in Rahane for the latter stages of the series.
Similar to his opening partner, Rohit Sharma too has struggled against the pace and bounce that the South African pitches have offered on this tour. The Mumbai Indians captain enjoyed a stellar 2017 in the shorter format. He ended the year as the second run-scorer behind captain Kohli and scored his 3 double hundred of his career during the month of December. If India is going to do well in this series, they will need their openers to give them a good base to launch from in the latter stages of the innings.
The best batsman in the world, Virat Kohli ended the test series as the highest run-scorer and was the only batsman to score a hundred. He scored over 1400 runs in ODI cricket in 2017 and is probably most suited to the 50 over game. Coming after Dhawan and Rohit, Kohli will be responsible for building the innings in the middle overs along with the young players who will come in after him. If India bat second, the pressure will be firmly on the captain, as he has built a reputation for being master at chasing down totals.
Number 4 is the position that India have struggled hugely to nail down over the past 2 years. After trying out a number of options, the team looks set on giving young Shreyas Iyer a good run in that position. The 23-year-old has played just 3 ODI’s till now but has already managed 2 fifties. However, the challenge of facing the likes of Ndidi, Rabada and Morkel is completely different to what he faced against the Sri Lankans last December.
With a string of excellent performances over the past year or so, Kedar Jadhav has managed to make the number 6 position his own. His explosive batting down the order is often the difference between winning and losing. While he is also very useful in rolling his arms over in the middle phases of a 50-over game and is very capable of breaking those dangerous partnerships.
Probably the best wicket-keeper batsman in the world, MS Dhoni will make a return to the Indian dressing room after watching the team lose the test series 2-1. The former Indian captain was in brilliant form last year, as he scored 788 runs at an average of over 60. However, there are still some critics who believe that he has lost his ability to hit the big shots and slows down the innings during the final few overs. Which is why it might not be surprising to see the 36-year-old coming higher up the order in this series.
Another player who was criticised heavily in the test series due to his temperament and shot selection. But there is no doubting the value of a player like Pandya’s ability in the shorter format. Pandya has enjoyed a fairly tale journey till now, but will encounter the most testing conditions of his life when he takes the field in Durban on Wednesday. His all-around abilities will be a vital part of Kohli’s plan as he strategizes to get under series win under his belt.
Kohli and the team management have a group of spinners to choose from for the 1st ODI. However, Yuzvendra Chahal is in the form of his life right now and will probably get the nod ahead of Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav for the 1st match. The pressure will be on him to settle in as quickly as possible as he knows that there are pretty good options on the bench to replace him. He picked 21 wickets in 2017 at an excellent average of 28.57 and ended the year with consecutive four-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka.
A lot of eyebrows were raised in India when Virat Kohli decided to drop Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the 2nd test match. The 27-year-old was soon recalled into the team for the 3rd test match and he answered the SOS call with a man of the match performance. Just like the other Indian bowlers Bhuvneshwar too enjoyed a great 2017, picking up 28 wickets in 24 matches. He will be leading the Indian bowling contingent in this ODI series, while also looking to contribute from the bat from lower down the order.
If it weren’t for Mohammed Shami’s brilliant spell in the 3rd session of Day 4 in the last test match, we might have been entering the 2nd phase of the tour fully whitewashed by the Protest in the test series. He will be looking to continue from where he left off, as he ended up being India’s leading wicket-taker in the 3 match test series. Conditions in Durban will help Shami even more, which is why we are almost certain to see him in the playing XI come 1st February.
India’s leading wicket-taker in ODI cricket in 2017, Jasprit Bumrah has quickly made a name for himself in the world of cricket. Currently, amongst the best bowlers in the limited overs format, Bumrah was hugely impressive in his debut test series as he picked up 14 wickets over 3 matches.
Predicted South African Playing XI for the 1st ODI : Faf du Plessis (C), Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Jean-Paul Duminy, David Miller, Khaya Zondo, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi, and Imran Tahir