Your essential guide to the first ODI between the Proteas and India at Kingsmead on Thursday 1 February.
The battle has reversed. After successfully fending off the Proteas’ hunt for the summit of the Test standings, India will now chase South Africa at the top of the ODI rankings. The Proteas need a series victory, draw or nothing worse than a 4-2 defeat, to hold onto the No 1 spot.
The major talking point was Ottis Gibson’s starting XI. With 2019 World Cup glory the ultimate goal, the Proteas start their experimental phase against the No 2-ranked side. National convener of selectors Linda Zondi was clear that a rotation policy will be implemented to find the Proteas’ strongest side, until after the Sri Lanka series in August. Chances are high that Lungi Ngidi and Khaya Zondo (at his home ground) will get their debuts in the hunt to find the perfect combination.
The Test series provided a clear insight into the pitch preparation at SuperSport Park, Newlands and the Wanderers, and now, two other venues will be under observation with St George’s Park and Kingsmead each hosting an ODI. If pace and bounce was Faf du Plessis’ recipe to secure a Test series win against India, it will be interesting to see how the pitches behave in the limited-over clashes.
First up is Durban and as expected, rain will play a role. The humid climate could result in thunderstorms and rain, which is expected on Thursday.
Players to Watch:
Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy will be in the spotlight. De Kock will be on a hunt for form, while Duminy’s aim will be to prove that he is still relevant to the Proteas set-up. Domestic cricket has rejuvenated Duminy’s chances of a starting spot. He has saved the Cobras on numerous occasions in the Momentum Cup this season – his four half-centuries vital to the Cobras’ second-place position on the standings.
For De Kock, white-ball cricket could not have come sooner. His Test slump has turned into a drought. 2 January 2017 was the last time De Kock scored a Test ton and he has managed only 690 runs at an average of 30.00, that included four fifties. He has been more comfortable in the 50-over format (nine matches, average of 93.75, two 100s and seven 50s) and needs a confidence boost before the Australia Test series in March, to reignite the x-factor which defines him as a player.
ALSO READ: De Kock feels rankings pain
Shreyas Iyer is in contention for a start in the Indian side, after missing out on a Test-side call-up. His recent form is deserving of a starting spot – he played three ODIs, scoring at an average of 54, which included two fifties. He was crucial to India’s 2-1 victory against Sri Lanka and is likely to fill the No 4 role in the side. It will be interesting to see how he handles South Africa’s pace attack of Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris and Ngidi.
India: 1) Rohit Sharma, 2) Shikhar Dhawan, 3) Virat Kohli (c), 4) Shreyas Iyer, 5) Dinesh Karthik, 6) MS Dhoni, 7) Hardik Pandya, 8) Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9) Mohammed Shami 10) Jasprit Bumrah 11) Yuzvendra Chahal
The major selection headache for the Proteas is the No 4 position. Does Gibson give Aiden Markram an extended run in the position, or play Duminy?
Duminy’s form in his last 17 matches for the Proteas hasn’t helped his cause. The 33-year-old scored at an average of 26 with a high score of 38* against Sri Lanka.
Markram solidified his spot in the Test side and has the talent to nail down the No 4 position in the ODI side, despite opening for the Titans in the domestic One-Day format. His debut came on 22 October 2017 against Bangladesh and he scored 66, so he could be worth the risk over an unpredictable Duminy.
AB de Villiers’ finger injury could see Zondo make his debut, or Duminy and Markram start.
South Africa: 1) Hashim Amla, 2) Quinton de Kock, 3) Faf du Plessis (c), 4) Aiden Markram/JP Duminy, 5) Khaya Zondo, 6) David Miller, 7) Chris Morris, 8) Kagiso Rabada, 9) Morne Morkel, 10) Lungi Ngidi, 11) Imran Tahir
– David Miller needs 72 runs to take him to 500 runs on the ground. His average at Kingsmead is 85.60 and he has scored two of his four centuries in eight matches.
– AB de Villiers has never scored a century at Kingsmead. He has the second most runs at the ground, 138 behind Jacques Kallis (753), and has scored six fifties.
– South Africa’s pace attack have not played many matches at the Durban ground. Morkel has played six (nine wickets, @ 29.33, an economy of 5.80), Rabada has played three (four wickets, @ 41.50, an economy rate of 5.92), while Morris and Ngidi could play their first games on the ground.
– India have never beaten South Africa in Durban. The sides have clashed seven times since 1992 and the Proteas have won six, with one match ending in a no result in 1997.
Linda Zondi on vision 2019: ‘We will be giving opportunities and increasing the pool. By the time it comes to 2019 we will have eliminated players who‚ in our minds‚ are part and parcel of our discussion. So this is a holistic approach in terms of giving opportunity. This squad is only for the first three matches. We know more or less what’s our starting XI‚ so it’s important that the guys who are in the squad and won’t be playing get an opportunity to understand our culture and be around the guys. After the third match, we will sit and — regardless of whether the series is won or lost — we will give opportunity.’
Du Plessis on De Kock’s form: ‘Quinny is just at the bottom of the wave at the moment but I know he’ll fight back to get on top again.’
The match starts at 13:00 on Thursday.
Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix