India's probable playing XI for the 1st ODI against South Africa

India will welcome the experience of MS Dhoni
India will welcome the experience of MS Dhoni
©REUTERS
 

In the home season, the Indian team looked impregnable. Even the top teams like England, Australia and New Zealand found it hard to get the better of the Men in Blue on home soil.

However, all this while the cricket pundits kept saying one thing- India has to win in alien conditions to be stamped an all-time great like the Mighty Australians in the first decade of this century. Their claims were substantiated when the team struggled in the first two Tests against South Africa. However, they bounced back in the final Test at the Wanderers to impart some respectability to the final score line of 2-1.

Kohli & co can take the momentum of the last Test into the one day series. After all, it is now time for them to step into familiar territory. It is time to shed off their white flannels and put on the blues. Here is a look at the probable playing XI which India will field in the first ODI against the Proteas on the 1st of February.

Openers

The regular opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan will start the proceedings for India in the batting department. Ajinkya Rahane has been picked as the reserve opener. He will get a game only when either one of the first choice openers gets injured or fails to get going in the first few matches.

However, both Dhawan and Rohit have to be very cautious in the initial overs considering the lively conditions of Kingsmead. Their playing style is more suited to pitches where the ball comes on to the bat. Rohit loves to play through the line. Thus, he always runs the risk of nicking the ball. Dhawan too, has the knack of staying leg side of the ball.

Middle order

Instead of using euphemism and lauding the flexibility of the middle order, one has every reason to argue that the Indian middle order is rather unsettled at present. Too much chopping and changing is affecting the consistency of players. All the champion teams over the years have had a settled batting order. There is always room for flexibility. However, each and every player needs to know his exact role in the side if he has to deliver his best performance.

Virat Kohli has been spectacular off late at no 3 for India but his technique will surely come under scrutiny again. Him bottom hand play serves him well in friendly conditions but at places where the ball wobbles around, it can cause trouble to the Indian skipper.

Shreyas Iyer will follow the skipper at no 4 in all likelihood leapfrogging Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey. The selection of the young Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer would not be a surprise as he deserves a place after a good run in the ODI series against Sri Lanka wherein he scored two half-centuries in three matches.

Lower order

Wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni is an automatic selection. He will feature in the team in his new role of a sheet anchor. He has done a commendable job of holding the team together in difficult circumstances in the past ODI season. He should ideally bat at no 5.

Kedar Jadhav makes his way back in the side after his hamstring injury. He missed out on the Sri Lanka series due to the injury that he picked up during a training session before the 1st India-Sri Lanka ODI. Off late Kohli has preffered Jadhav over Manish Pandey for the no 6 spot.

All-rounder

Hardik Pandya is the result of India’s long quest for a pace bowling all-rounder. His explosive batting prowess lower down the order is well known but his technique against the moving ball can lead to his downfall. Setting aside the horrors of the last two Test matches, Pandya would look to capitalize on his ODI form.

Spinner

The spins twins, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been an enigma for the visiting teams in the ODI home season. Be it, Australia, New Zealand or Sri Lanka, all have struggled to pick up the variations of the wrist spinners.

However, due to the match being played in South Africa, there would be room for just one spinner. At the moment, Chahal is confortably India’s first choice limited overs spinner. His tendency of picking up wickets in the middle overs shifts the momentum in the team's favour.

The RCB leggie is now reaping the benefit of the hard work he put into polishing his craft in the IPL. One must realize that it is no mean thing to make premier spinners like Ashwin and Jadeja waiting in the wings.

Pace battery

The crux of India’s pace bowling line-up is its variety. The Indian team has four full-time quick bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami. With three spots remaining, Shardul will miss the first match.

Jasprit Bumrah has become the Trump card of the Indian bowling line-up in the recent times. His delivery that holds its line instead of coming in to the right-handers with the angle may prove to be his wicket taking weapon. Batsmen have been found wanting against his concealed slower ones and deceptive yorkers in the recent times.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the master of swing and seam bowling. He is adept at bowling in-swing and out swing with the slightest change in his wrist position. He will prove to be India's most potent option in conditions that assist swing bowling.

Mohammad Shami is a complete bowler, one who has both pace and swing. He bowls the heaviest ball out of all Indian bowlers. If he hits his rhythm, he can get through the defenses of even the best batsmen.

India will play 6 ODIs, the first of which will be played in Kingsmead, Durban on the 1st of February. After a riveting Test series, get ready to see a flurry of fours and sixes as the Indian team is way more assured of itself in the limited overs format. Quite literally, it’s a different ball game altogether.

Outcome of first ODI

With the two sides evenly balanced, it is going to be a great ODI series and the opening match may be rain affected, so it will be the team that holds its nerve that will come out on top of there are overs lost and DLS comes into play - our prediction - India to win and for all the latest online cricket betting and preview of the 1st ODI go to the India tour of South Africa section.