Five things we learned from the first ODI between South Africa and India in Kanpur on Sunday, according to Kobus Pretorius.
Rabada is here to stay
The 20-year-old has everything required to be a success at the highest level. After his double strike in the final over Rabada showed that he has the temperament to cope in the big moments. His inclusion ahead of Kyle Abbott and Chris Morris was justified and the plan looks to be to play him as much as possible in the shorter formats and see how he goes. It couldn’t have started better. Rabada is fast becoming a mainstay in the T20 and ODI team and he can’t be far off from making his Test debut. That should probably wait until England’s tour to South Africa at the end of the year, but there is no doubt that Rabada has arrived and will spearhead the Proteas bowling attack in years to come.
Behardien strengthens his case
After a slow start to his international career, Farhaan Behardien is on the brink of cementing his place in South Africa’s best XI. His 35 off 19 balls batting with AB de Villiers was an underrated innings and shouldn’t be ignored. He also broke the 149-run partnership between Rohit Sharma (150) and Ajinkya Rahane (60) by having the latter caught by David Miller. Behardien has game intelligence, knows how to read a game and his execution is getting better as he plays more. He has also shown the ability to clear the boundary when needed and has done enough over the last few months to warrant continued selection for the foreseeable future.
Bowling can improve
South Africa’s bowling attack never really looked threatening as Sharma and Rahane cruised to what should have been a comfortable win for India. All the bowlers toiled hard and it wasn’t until the last 10 overs when things went South Africa’s way. Imran Tahir struggled before taking two wickets towards the end. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will take a game or two to get into their groove so we shouldn’t be too quick to judge, while Tahir must vary his pace more to be a consistent threat.
India will miss R Ashwin
He has given the South African batsmen problems on this tour so far and as India’s best spinner, there is no doubt that his absence due to a side strain is a huge blow. Ashwin got AB de Villiers out twice in the T20 series and troubled the other batsmen as well. He left the field twice during the South African innings and it completely messed up MS Dhoni’s bowling plans during a crucial part of the game. It is unclear how long Ashwin will be sidelined for, but Harbhajan Singh has been called up as cover.
Sharma the dangerman
The Proteas brains trust will have to find a way to get Rohit Sharma out early before he gets a chance to do too much damage. He’s in form and has a reputation for getting big scores once he gets going. If South Africa can manage to break that opening partnership early, it will put more pressure on the likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Dhoni.