After suffering a whitewash defeat at the hands of New Zealand in their previous ODI series, India will be looking to put things right on home soil against South Africa. This game is the first of a three-match ODI series and the Men in Blue can ill-afford to make it two losses in a row.Team India are notoriously tough to beat on home soil which will play into the hands of Virat Kohli and his men, who may need all the encouragement they can get from the home crowd.
Since drawing their ODI series versus England, South Africa have gone from strength to strength under the new duo of coach Mark Boucher and captain Quinton de Kock. They recently hammered an under-par Australia 3-0 on home soil.
The fact that the Proteas were victorious on their last visit to India in 2015 will only further boost confidence. With that said, the injury to spinner Tabraiz Shamsi could prove fatal on the subcontinent’s notoriously dry wickets.
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A new-look selection panel led by Sunil Joshi recently unveiled the 15-man squad for India’s upcoming ODI series against South Africa. The big news for India is the return of all-rounder Hardik Pandya after an injury lay off that lasted close to six months.
Elsewhere, flamboyant opener Shikhar Dhawan returns at the top of the order alongside golden boy Prithvi Shaw. There is still no place for injured vice-captain Rohit Sharma who remains sidelined due to a calf problem sustained during January’s tour of New Zealand.
In terms of the Team India attack, Japrit Bumrah returns to the fast-bowling ranks whilst the mercurial Mohammed Shami remains rested after the rigours of the New Zealand tour. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also returns to the squad at long last.
South Africa have some exciting team news of their own, with former captain Faf du Plessis returning to bring the Proteas’ middle order some much needed strength. The legendary batsman was rested for the recent home series against England and Australia so should be raring to go for the first test against India.
Elsewhere, Janneman Malan comes back into the fold after scoring his maiden century in the second test versus Australia. Unfortunately for the Proteas, they will have to try and conquer India without the help of their first-choice spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.
In 84 ODI matches since 1991, India have managed 35 victories versus the Proteas. South Africa have come out on top on no less than 46 occasions although this fact should not affect the result of Thursday’s ODI too much.
The last ODI series between the pair came back in early 2018 when India managed to rout South Africa 5-1 in a 6-game series played across the African nation. This came after the Proteas won 3-2 in a 5-match series played in India back in 2015.
Taking into account the strikingly even record these two teams have facing one another in ODI’s, the home advantage just about tips the tie in favour of the Men in Blue. With that said, the Proteas are more than capable of pulling off a shock victory as we saw back in 2015.
Considering the clear weaknesses in the South African attack, it is predicted that Virat Kohli will choose to bat second should India win the toss. This will give India a chance to test the Proteas bowlers, who are worryingly short on spinners.
With that said, the South African bowlers would love to bowl on a slick pitch, with rain looking increasingly likely to fall before and during the match.
The weather in Dharamshala could well prove fatal to the chances of both teams. Currently, the forecast is a gloomy 11c, with thunderstorms worryingly likely.
Rain seems almost certain and, should the game go ahead, this will be music to the ears of the Proteas players. Captain Quinton de Kock will almost certainly look to take full advantage of any slick surfaces using the lightning pace of Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje, who could prove extremely tricky to face in such conditions.
|Wicketkeeper||Quinton de Kock|
|Batsmen||Shikhar Dhawa, Virat Kohli, Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan|
|All-Rounder||Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Andile Phehlukwayo|
|Bowlers||Jasprit Bumrah, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje|