India, South Africa move on from World Cup heartbreak as Wanderers turn pink

India, South Africa move on from World Cup heartbreak as Wanderers turn pink
India, South Africa move on from World Cup heartbreak as Wanderers turn pink

A month ago, South Africa and India lost ODIs that may have felt like the most pivotal matches of their lives. On Sunday, they will return to the format for the first time since Kolkata and Ahmedabad, and things will feel a lot less life-or-death.

This ODI series is sandwiched between a T20I series in a T20 World Cup year and a Test series, and will for that reason miss a large number of household names. It will feature, instead, a cast of characters of whom many won’t be too well known outside their home countries. South Africa’s squad includes five players who have played ten or fewer ODIs, and India’s as many as nine.

The series will give these players a chance to make selectors’ lives a little more difficult the next time they sit down to pick a squad for a higher-profile series. This isn’t to say that this one lacks profile entirely – the Wanderers will turn pink on Sunday for breast-cancer awareness, and a sellout crowd is expected to pack the stands.

South Africa LWLWW (last five ODIs, most recent first)

With Quinton de Kock retired from ODIs, Reeza Hendricks is set to enjoy an unbroken run of games at the top of the order. He will want to make full use of that chance, though. While he has been in tremendous form in T20Is – he has scored seven fifties in his last 13 innings in the format – he has been less assured in ODIs so far, averaging under 30 after 31 innings. A 75-ball 85 against England during the World Cup showed just how gifted he is, but he still needs to show he can be consistent as well as eye-catching in the 50-overs format.
KL Rahul didn’t feature in the T20I series, and he will want to remind the selectors of what he is capable of in that format, with a T20 World Cup on the horizon. He has been out of India’s recent Test XIs, but he is in their squad, auditioning for a role – keeper-batter – that he’s only played once in a first-class game. It’s pretty much on point for Rahul’s career that he is captaining India in the middle-length format while trying to stake his claim in the shortest and longest ones.
Left-arm quick Nandre Burger made his South Africa debut during the third T20I on Thursday, and looks set to get an ODI cap as well. It remains to be seen if South Africa pick both their spinners or leave one of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi on the bench.

South Africa (probable): 1 Reeza Hendricks, 2 Tony de Zorzi, 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 Aiden Markram (capt), 5 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Wiaan Mulder, 9 Nandre Burger, 10 Keshav Maharaj/Tabraiz Shamsi, 11 Lizaad Williams

Rinku Singh may have staked a claim for an ODI debut following an impressive T20I series, with Sanju Samson India’s other option at No. 6. And unless a non-regular opener is pushed up the order, it seems likely that B Sai Sudharsan will also receive an ODI cap. Tilak Varma is likely to feature in the middle order and give India a sixth bowling option.

India (probable): 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 B Sai Sudharsan, 3 Tilak Varma, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul (capt & wk), 6 Rinku Singh/Sanju Samson, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Arshdeep Singh, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Mukesh Kumar

The Wanderers is usually a high-scoring ODI venue thanks to its true bounce and the rarefied Highveld atmosphere. Three of the last four games here have produced 300-plus first-innings totals. A largely clear day is expected in Johannesburg, with temperatures in the high 20s (Celsius).

“It’s never nice to exit a World Cup like that. I thought we had something really good going and that does filter into this team – from the good side of things. I would say most guys are over it. The nature of cricket nowadays is the schedule is so hectic you are almost forced to move on as quickly as possible so we are pretty much past it and looking forward to the series.”
South Africa captain Aiden Markram on the scars from the World Cup semi-final exit

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