For India, it has been a series of “beating the odds” so far in the rainbow nation. Led by captain Virat Kohli, team India began the Test series on a high, coming on the back of nine consecutive series victories.
But the lack of experience of playing in overseas conditions proved decisive as Indian batsmen struggled against the pace and bounce on offer from the South African pitches. With batsmen failing to deliver, the visitors went on to lose the first two Tests and consequently, the series. But bouncing back against all odds on a dangerous Wanderers pitch in the third Test, India went on to register a thumping consolation victory by 63-runs.
Now, with the 6-match ODI series against South Africa set to begin from Thursday, Kohli will be eager to start off things on a winning note in the limited-overs format especially with the number one ODI status on the line.
Going straight into the first ODI at Kingsmead, Durban after the Johannesburg triumph, the visitors will feel confident that they can exploit the pitch to their advantage and trouble South Africa on their own turf. The average first innings score at Kingsmead is 237 while in the second it drops down to 183, hence revealing that bowlers have ruled the roost in this ground.
India’s seam bowling department, which comprises of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, will be the key in the limited-overs series for the visitors as matches will be played under lights. The trio have proved to be effective on the greener South African pitches in the longest format, and the side managed to take 20 wickets in all the three Tests. While Kumar took 10 wickets in 2 Tests at an average of 18.75, Shami took 15 in 3 matches at an average of 17.06. Bumrah, who was handed his maiden Test cap at Johannesburg, took 14 wickets in 3 Tests, at an average of 25.21. He also registered his first five-wicket haul at Wanderers which will further boost his confidence in ODIs.
The pace trio of India will look to repeat the performance in Durban to trouble South Africa’s strong batting line-up. The absence of AB de Villiers, who has been ruled of the first three ODIs with a finger injury, gives India the perfect opportunity to go for the kill early in the series. His absence is likely to pave the way for inexperienced Khaya Zondo to make his debut and will make the home’s side middle order appear a little weaker.
As far as getting runs on the board are concerned, the onus will be on batsmen to deliver the goods. After a lackluster outing in the Test series, they will have to make amends if India has to secure a positive result in the limited overs.
The Proteas will too look to trouble India’s batting line-up in the 50-overs format as well and Lungi Ngidi, who is likely to make his ODI debut after a terrific series can be the key figure in South Africa’s arsenal at Kingsmead. Just like in Test cricket, it might all come down to bowlers in the first ODI.
Source: Indian Express Web Desk