After beating South Africa in the series opener on Thursday (February 1) at the Kingsmead Stadium in Durban, India will be looking to maintain their winning momentum when the ODI bandwagon moves to the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday (February 4) in a bid to take a 2-0 lead in the six-match ODI series, by putting in front every key player that they can get.
While Proteas captain Faf du Plessis scored a fluent century in the first innings, Indian counterpart Virat Kohli replied with a scintillating century of his own and ultimately led his team an easy win in the end. He was also ably supported by comeback man Ajinkya Rahane and the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
Ahead of the 2nd ODI of the series on Sunday (February 4) at the SuperSport Park in Centurion, we take a look at 5 key players who can make a difference in the match:
1. Rohit Sharma
Didn’t score much runs in the 1st ODI against South Africa, but nonetheless a key player. After getting off to a flyer in the 1st ODI in Durban, it looked like Rohit Sharma was on course to yet another big one and take India home until an ambitious shot against Morne Morkel brought about his downfall. Nevertheless, India’s ODI vice-captain plays like a man possessed in the 50-over format and is one of the most dangerous top order batmen going around world cricket at present, as was also affirmed by Harsha Bhogle on Thursday.
The white ball liberates Rohit Sharma.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 1, 2018
Rohit will have another chance to stamp his mark on what has been a particularly tough tour for him so far. South Africa will once again hope to get him out early and have a go at captain Virat Kohli in the 2nd ODI on Sunday (February 4).
2. Virat Kohli
Indian captain Virat Kohli is currently the world’s top-ranked ODI batsman and scored a sublime century in the series opener on Thursday in Durban, anchoring yet another successful run chase for his team. Coming in at the crucial No.3 spot, Team India’s captain marvel has the ever-so-handy ability to seize control of the game in any situation and keeps churning out runs for his team over and over again.
With 33 ODI centuries in just over 200 matches, Kohli is already a legend in white-ball cricket and he will be once again a key player to ward off the Proteas if South Africa are to make early inroads into Indian batting and level the series in Centurion.
3. Faf du Plessis
Like Virat Kohli, South African captain Faf du Plessis also scored a run-a-ball hundred in the 1st ODI and took his team to a solid total of 269 runs on a tricky wicket. When the Indian spin duo of Chahal and Kuldeep were rattling the South African middle-order, du Plessis kept his calm and played the spin twins with utmost calmness and intelligence, proving that he is a key player.
With talisman AB de Villiers set to miss the 2nd ODI as well, the onus will once again be on du Plessis to hold the Proteas’ innings together and deal with an Indian bowling attack containing the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
4. Kuldeep Yadav
India’s decision to go in with two frontline spinners in the 1st ODI in Durban seemed like a risk at the outset but eventually it was the spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, that brought India back into the game on Thursday (February 1) and reduced South Africa from 83/1 to 134/5, breaking the back of the Proteas’ middle-order in the process. Kuldeep, playing his first ever game in the Rainbow nation, bowled a particularly great spell, in which he gave away just 33 runs in his 10 overs and picked up 3 crucial wickets. If that is not the traits of a key player, then nothing is.
Come the 2nd ODI on Sunday, captain Virat Kohli will once again turn to the young left-arm chinaman bowler to hold the fort in the middle-overs for India and take his team to a 2-0 series lead.
5. Kagiso Rabada
After his exploits in the Test series, much was expected of young pace sensation Kagiso Rabada in the 1st ODI but his inability to pick up any wickets early on and in the middle-overs was a major factor in India cruising to an easy win in the end. Nevertheless, Rabada will have another chance to go at the Indian batsmen in the Centurion ODI and make amends for his poor outing in the series opener.
Rabada is the leader of South Africa’s bowling attack and a key player. He will be expected to derail India’s strong batting lineup and cushion his team’s comeback in the 2nd ODI.