Centurion: A buoyant India will look to cash in on South Africa s injury woes, compounded by the loss of captain Faf du Plessis, when the two sides meet in the second ODI here tomorrow.
The visitors won their first-ever ODI against South Africa at Durban on Thursday by six wickets and took a 1-0 lead in the six-match series.
That defeat ended the Proteas’ 17-match unbeaten run on home soil stretching back to February 2016, when they had lost to England at Port Elizabeth.
In the aftermath of the Durban defeat, South Africa have lost skipper du Plessis to a finger injury.
He had suffered a blow during the first ODI and later scans revealed that he had suffered a fracture, thus ruling him out for three to six weeks. He will miss the remainder of the ODI series as well as the entire T20I series against India as well.
This was on top of AB de Villiers finger injury, sustained during the third Test at Wanderers, but he was only ruled out of the first three ODIs.
Even so, the hosts will be very demoralised with this turn of events, especially since they need to fight back to avoid going 2-0 down so early in this contest.
Batsman Farhaan Behardien has been recalled to the ODI squad after he was left out initially in favour of Khayelihle Zondo as part of their preparation for the 2019 World Cup.
Wicket-keeper batsman Heinrich Klaasen, who finished the third highest run-getter in South Africa s domestic one-day tournament, has also been drafted as the backup for Quinton de Kock.
The latter has been struggling for form and scored a patchy 34 off 49 balls in the first game. It is tough to envisage that de Kock will be dropped just yet, but Klaasen s inclusion ought to send him a signal of the team management intent.
The Proteas management has another headache before the Centurion ODI, though. They are yet to announce the captain for the remainder of this ODI series.
However, they might turn to former skipper Hashim Amla in this moment of need.
South Africa s bother doesn’t end here. The hosts will momentarily lose their no.1 status in the ICC ODI rankings should India take a 2-0 lead at Supersport Park. As it is, the Men in Blue need a 4-2 overall series victory to step up and affirmatively claim the top spot in the 50-overs format.
Unlike Kingsmead, India have a better record at this venue, having played 11 ODIs inclusive of four wins and five losses. Their most famous win here came against Pakistan in the 2003 ODI World Cup.
Against South Africa, they have played five ODIs at Centurion, winning two and losing as many.
The Centurion pitch came under sharp criticism for its sub-continental type nature during the second Test here, which South Africa won by 135 runs. It is understood that the groundsmen would have done a better job for this series (wherein Supersport Park will host two out of six ODIs), albeit a flat wicket is still expected in keeping with the shorter formats.
Irrespective of conditions though, Virat Kohli will be tempted to go in with the same playing eleven. It would mean another trial by wrist-spin for South Africa s depleted batting line-up, as Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will look to wreak havoc once again.
The second ODI will be a day-game (the only one in this series) on account of a Sunday as is the norm in this country.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen.
The match starts at: 1.30 pm IST.