Two deposed captains, Virat Kohli and Quinton de Kock, could play significant roles in a three-match ODI series between South Africa and India, starting at Boland Park in Paarl on Wednesday.
Both former skippers have the potential to be the leading batters for their respective sides.
For Kohli, it will be the first ODI series since Rohit Sharma was named captain by the India selectors in December.
Even though Sharma had to withdraw from the series in South Africa because of injury, the captaincy was not returned to Kohli but passed to KL Rahul.
Kohli, who captained India in 95 ODIs with a 65-27 win-loss ratio, made it clear after India’s Test series defeat last week that he could speak about the coming one-day games purely “from a player’s point of view”.
Kohli, who subsequently stepped down from the Test captaincy, said: “You are obviously very driven and motivated to perform in any match you play for India. As an individual, I can definitely say that I am looking forward to the ODI series and I am driven to perform in those ODI games.”
De Kock was made South Africa’s long-term white-ball captain in February 2020 and appointed Test captain for four matches last season. But he did not seem comfortable in the role and a decision was made last March to put Temba Bavuma in charge of the white-ball teams, with Dean Elgar taking over as Test captain.
De Kock, who was already due to miss the last two Tests against India on paternity leave, announced after the first Test last month that he was retiring from Test cricket, although he remained available for limited-overs games.
The series marks De Kock’s return to action for the first time since becoming the father of a baby daughter. He fell to two indifferent shots in his final Test match and South Africa will be hoping for a return to the free-flowing, motivated batter who hit three centuries in successive matches against India eight seasons ago.
The series is not part of the ICC’s World Cup Super League but South Africa, in particular, will be keen to record their first ODI series win since beating Australia 3-0 in March 2020 before cricket was effectively shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
Since then, series against India and England have been aborted because of the virus, they have lost against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and have had to share the honours against Ireland and the Netherlands.
One match was lost, one won and another rained out in Ireland. The first match of a series against the Netherlands was washed out and the remaining matches postponed because South Africa was placed on a coronavirus travel “red list”.
India won the only two ODI series they played in 2021, at home against England and away against Sri Lanka.
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), Keshav Maharaj (v-c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Zubayr Hamza, Marco Jansen, Sisanda Magala, Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne (wk).
India: KL Rahul (c), Jasprit Bumrah (v-c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli, Prasidh Kumar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rishabh Pant (wk), Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Jayant Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav.
1st ODI – 19 January, Boland Park, Paarl
2nd ODI – 21 January, Boland Park, Paarl
3rd ODI – 23 January, Newlands, Cape Town