The South Africa tour of India moves to its second and final phase. The Men in Blue take on the Proteas in the first ODI in Lucknow.
The last five India vs South Africa fixtures have produced comprehensive results. Temba Bavuma & Co. have won four out of the five matches, the fifth match having been abandoned due to a COVID-19 outbreak. With most senior players rested, India’s young guns are taking on South Africa under Shikhar Dhawan’s leadership. Shreyas Iyer has been named Dhawan’s deputy for the series.
The big picture
This ODI series might not be the most crucial series for the Indian fanbase, but it’s a critical series for the visitors. South Africa rank 11th in the ICC ODI Rankings, behind the West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka. The cancelled tour of Australia has hampered the Proteas, putting them in a must-win situation against India. Hence, South Africa will fit in their strongest playing XI.
Should South Africa remain 11th in the rankings after this series, they will miss out on the automatic qualification for next year’s ODI World Cup and will have to compete in the Qualifying stage.
The South African team management is ensuring that the series of off-field actions do not affect their on-field performance. Mark Boucher’s departure and Temba Bavuma’s non-purchase in the New South African T20 League along with his poor run of form have affected the morale of the squad. A series win here could fix a lot of issues ahead of the mega event next year.
Along with the senior Indian players, head coach Rahul Dravid is also unavailable for this ODI series. Standing captain Shikhar Dhawan has had a great run leading the talented next-generation cricketers.
The 16-man India squad for the ODIs features four players yet to make their debut for India and five others who have collectively played 34 ODIs. This relatively inexperienced team have their work cut out against a formidable South African line-up.
Match: India vs South Africa
Venue: Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow
Date: Thursday, 6 October 2022
Time: 01:30 PM IST
Where to watch: Star Sports Network | Disney+ Hotstar
Pitch report & Toss
Lucknow has waited for a India vs South Africa fixture since 2020, when COVID-19 cancelled a scheduled ODI match. Hence, India will be playing their first ODI at the Ekana Cricket Stadium. The West Indies have played a series against Afghanistan at this venue.
The average first-innings 50-over score here is 230. Unfortunately, a series of showers are expected on Thursday. During overcast conditions, the side winning the toss will most likely elect to bowl first. The wicket in such conditions might become unpredictable and two-paced. The odd bowl will hold the wicket, and stroke-making will become a little tricky. 260 seems to be an on-par score on this wicket.
Probable playing XIs
India: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson (wk), Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Siraj
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wk), Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma (c), Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada
In the spotlight
The two captains will definitely be under the spotlight.
Bavuma’s return from his injury has not been pleasant. A series of ducks followed by a 3-run score in the T20Is has put the South Africa skipper in a spot of bother.
Bavuma’s counterpart Shikhar Dhawan, on the other hand, has managed three fifty-plus scores in the last six matches, although his last ODI century came back in 2019. With the big guns missing, the Indian skipper has added responsibilities on his shoulder.
Here are the players to look at for in this game.
Malan has been rock solid when opening the innings with Quinton de Kock. The right-handed batter is an ODI specialist who likes to take his time earlier on in the innings to then go the distance.
In his 20-match ODI career, Malan has scored three centuries and four fifties. He has played three ODIs against India, scoring 98 runs, including a 91-run knock in a 280-run chase.
Overcast conditions make Rabada even more dangerous. His accuracy and knack for picking wickets earlier on in the innings make him the go-to bowler at any given point in time.
Rabada has picked up 17 wickets against India in 12 matches at an Economy Rate of 5.07. His ability to consistently bowl 140-150kph deliveries makes him the bowler to watch out for in this game.
Runs against the West Indies and Zimbabwe have given Gill some much-needed confidence to stand tall against a formidable South African bowling lineup.
In his last six innings, the man from Punjab has scored a mammoth 450 runs at an Average of 112.5. The onus of scoring runs will be on the top three Indian batters: Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer.
The Team India management has thrown Thakur a challenge of fitting in Hardik Pandya’s shoes. He is expected to play the role of an all-rounder given his ability to score quick runs and pick wickets during the middle overs. Thakur’s ability to move the bowl both ways also makes him a contender to pick wickets with the new ball.
Temba Bavuma’s career stands at a critical point. This is a make-or-break series for him. South Africa cannot afford to hold back Reeza Hendricks much longer.