• Four Indian players out to prove a point

    India will head into the ODI series with South Africa on the back of a 3-0 loss at the hands of New Zealand, aiming to set things straight against a new-look Proteas outfit, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.

    While the visitors will head into the series high in confidence following their ODI whitewash of Australia in South Africa, the Indians have a few players who will desperate to prove a point.

    A few of them could see the three ODIs as the ideal opportunity to push for a spot at the T20 World Cup later this year, while some have only recently returned from lengthy injury lay-offs and would want to relinquish their spots in the 50-over format set-up.

    Hardik Pandya

    The all-rounder is back in the ODI squad after spending a lengthy period on the sidelines through injury. Pandya hasn’t played ODI cricket for India since their World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand in Manchester last year and will be out to prove his fitness in what he will view an important series and year for him. A strong pillar of the India team, Pandya can deliver with both bat and ball, something they clearly lacked in their loss to New Zealand.

    Shikhar Dhawan

    Dhawan also missed the tour of New Zealand after sustaining a shoulder injury during the ODI series against Australia in January. The left-hander was in devastating form against the Australians in the opening two encounters, but was unfit to feature in the final clash. Dhawan has a particularly good record against South Africa and needs no second chances to become aggressive on Indian surfaces.

    Jasprit Bumrah

    Bumrah had a quiet and frustrating tour of New Zealand where he failed to deliver when his team needed him to. The pace bowler failed to pick up a wicket in any of the three matches against the Black Caps, which immediately makes him dangerous for the upcoming matches against the Proteas. Bumrah is a classy bowler and is usually very disciplined with his bowling lengths, which could spell danger for Quinton de Kock and his men as he will be desperate to achieve that sort of consistency again.

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    Bhuvneshwar Kumar

    Another player who has had his fair share of injuries in the last 12 months. Kumar has also had a frustrating couple of months – from being injured in the World Cup last year to picking up a groin injury in September against the West Indies. Kumar is another fast bowler hoping to prove a point again in the India team to hit the sort of form he gripped the IPL with in 2016 and 2017. The fast bowler is the most experienced bowler in the squad and will be particularly important to reignite the partnership with Bumrah. Together the two can cause havoc for any team in the world, with Kumar’s swing bowling and Bumrah’s angles they are very much capable of pressurising the somewhat inexperienced Proteas batting lineup.

    The first ODI starts on Thursday at 10am (SA time) at the HPCA Stadium.

    India squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill.

    Photo: Gallo Images

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    Andre Huisamen