India and South Africa will contest three ODIs this month. The series opener will be played in Dharamsala on Thursday.
- The tour is going ahead despite the threat posed by the coronavirus outbreak. The virus has caused several global sporting events to be postponed or cancelled, including cricket’s Everest Premier League in Nepal, but not this ODI series. The Board of Control for Cricket in India and Cricket South Africa are working closely with the World Health Organisation, South African Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases to protect the players and support staff.
Faf du Plessis is back
- The former captain was rested for the ODI series against Australia. He will now be hard pressed to return to a middle order refreshed by the talent and fine form of trio Kyle Verreynne, Jon-Jon Smuts and Heinrich Klaasen. Smuts has a role to play with the ball and Klaasen was named Player of the Series against the Aussies. Verreynne, then, might have to make way for Du Plessis.
Who is absent?
- Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi is not on this tour. Instead, he is on paternity leave. Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada isn’t there. He’s nursing a groin injury. The uncapped George Linde was preferred to fellow left-arm spinner and all-rounder Bjorn Fortuin. All-rounder Dwaine Pretorius was not chosen. Opening batsman Janneman Malan was a late addition.
India have Hardik Pandya and others again
- The talismanic all-rounder will play international cricket for the first time since undergoing back surgery. His return will add balance to an Indian XI that was lacking during a recent ODI series defeat by New Zealand. Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar have also returned. Opening batsman Rohit Sharma, however, is still sidelined by injury.
Last time, in 2015
- South Africa were in India for a bilateral ODI series five years ago. They won that series 3-2. It was locked at two all going into the decider at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, where the tourists amassed a 400-plus total on the back of tons from Du Plessis, then captain AB de Villiers and opener Quinton de Kock. South Africa won the match by over 200 runs.
Since then, though
- South Africa have lost eight of the last 10 ODIs against India, including one during the 2019 World Cup. Former all-rounder Albie Morkel, who has vast experience of sub-continental conditions after stints with the Chennai Super Kings and others in the Indian Premier League, has presumed India will win the series and challenged the Proteas to ‘at least compete’.
- The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium will host the first ODI. It has the picturesque Himalayas as an imposing backdrop. South Africa have been here for a couple of T20Is in the past – and some of the players would have experienced the ground in the IPL. This, however, will be their first ODI at the ground.
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