South Africa’s depleted batting line-up faces another spin trial against Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
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 One-Day International in Centurion on Sunday.
The visitors have a 1-0 lead in the six-match series after winning their first-ever ODI against South Africa at Durban on Thursday by six wickets.
That defeat ended the Proteas' 17-match unbeaten run on home soil, stretching back to February 2016, when they lost to England at Port Elizabeth.
In the aftermath of the Durban defeat, South Africa lost skipper du Plessis to a finger injury. He had suffered a blow during the first ODI and scans revealed that he 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.
Earlier, AB de Villiers sustained a finger injury during the third Test at the Wanderers and was ruled out of the first three ODIs.
The hosts will be demoralised by the turn of events, especially since they need to fight back to avoid going 2-0 down so early in the series.
Batsman Farhaan Behardien has been recalled to the ODI squad, after being left out initially in favour of Khayelihle Zondo as part of their preparation for the 2019 World Cup.
Zondo did not play at Durban and is expected to sit out of Sunday’s outing, as Behardien will walk into the playing eleven given the circumstances. The latter last featured against Bangladesh in October 2017.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen, who finished as the third highest run-getter in South Africa’s domestic one-day tournament, has also been drafted as 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’s intent.
The Proteas’ management have another headache before the Centurion ODI, though. They are yet to name a captain for the remainder of this ODI series.
De Villiers had led in the one-off four-day Test against Zimbabwe when du Plessis was last sidelined in December.
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.
They will be carrying the winning momentum into this second ODI, after a stunning victory at the Wanderers’ Test and another easy win at Durban.
Unlike Kingsmead, India have a better record at the 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. However, their last ODI win over the Proteas here was in 2001-02 during the triangular series (also involving Kenya).
Since then, they lost an ODI each during the 2006-07 and 2010-11 tours, whilst their last ODI during the 2013-14 tour was washed off.
The Indian team management, of course, does not pay attention to such statistics. They are more concerned with their players’ current form instead. In that light, the visitors don’t have any selection bothers at the moment.
No. 4 was the only spot that saw some experimentation in recent times, but Ajinkya Rahane’s fluent 79 runs off 86 balls in the first ODI has meant that he will occupy this spot in the short term, at least.
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.
It remains to be seen though if there will be some assistance for spin like in Durban.
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.
A full house is expected nevertheless.
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.
Start: 1.30 pm IST.