South Africa v India - 1st ODI, Durban - 12th January
India will lock horns with South Africa in the opening match of the five-match One-Day International series in Durban on Wednesday. Both teams would look to field a full strength side in search of getting the combination of players right ahead of the World Cup in Asia.
In the Indian context, the seniors, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan could make a return as they were rested in the ODI series against Kiwis.
Opening batsman Virender Sehwag has already been ruled out of the series as a precautionary measure to be fit for the World Cup.
The batting card could see a reshuffle with Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir back at the top of the order. The 37-year-old batsman’s last match was in February last year, where he hit the first ever ODI double hundred.
Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina will occupy the middle order slots. The Indians are coming off the back of a 5-0 series win over New Zealand and Yusuf Pathan, who forced his name into World Cup selection debates on strong all-round performance recently, will be watched with a lot of interest by the Indian selectors.
The hard-hitting batsman was a revelation in the series against the Black Caps scoring a match-winning century at Bangalore and taking eight wickets. The fight for the number seven spot has come down to him and Ravindra Jadeja as the announcement of the final 15 for the World Cup in February draws near.
Jadeja was left out of the squad for the ODIs in South Africa. However, Jadeja is amongst the 30 probables in the preliminary squad. Sharma has also attracted the attention of the selectors with a match-winning knock of 53 in the Twenty20 International against South Africa on Sunday.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who picked up 11 wickets in the home series against the New Zealand, is likely to be replaced by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. It remains to be seen whether skipper Dhoni is keen to play Munaf Patel, who appeared to have lost his pace and was constantly out of the playing eleven. The bowling duties could be a juggle among Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Patel and Ishant Sharma, with Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra as near certainties.
Opening bowler Praveen Kumar is unfit and experienced pain while bowling in the T20 International at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday.
South Africa will be keen to test uncapped Imran Tahir, the Pakistan-born leg-spinner, who was recently granted South African citizenship. But, whether he gets his chance straight away and is named in the playing eleven ahead of Johan Botha remains to be seen.
Hashim Amla will open the batting, as there is a doubt over skipper Graeme Smith’s fitness. In the absence of sheet anchor Jacques Kallis, Colin Ingram may be promoted to bat at the number three position, with AB de Villiers and JP Duminy in the middle order.
The 25-year-old Ingram, had a rollicking start to his ODI career with two centuries already, while Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers featured in the list of top scorers in the recent series against Pakistan, which they won 3-2. Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Dale Steyn will carry the bowling duties.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith missed Sunday’s T20 International against India because of a bruised hand. It will be interesting to see who comes out at the toss in the opening ODI, if he is unfit.
Form Book (Last five matches)
South Africa WLWLW
The Teams :
India ODI squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), R. Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Shantakumar Sreesanth, Sachin Tendulkar, Murali Vijay, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag
South Africa ODI squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
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