Zee Media Bureau/Suyash Srivastava
Johannesburg: While the Indian team will be high on confidence after winning six ODI titles this year, the Proteas would be looking to get back to winning ways after losing a three-match ODI series against Pakistan on their home soil. Both the teams will locks horns with each other at the first ODI match to be played at The Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday.
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Indian team is full of in-form batsmen. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan have all been in stupendous form right throughout this year. While Dhawan has hit the maximum number of centuries (5) in ODIs this year, Rohit Sharma after having an average year, did phenomenally well in the ODI series against Australia and there has been no looking back for him since there on. Virat Kohli is obviously the most consistent Indian batsman, and he is also the world number one ODI batsman at the moment. Add Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to the batting line-up, and suddenly the Indian team looks threatening and deservedly right at the top of the ICC ODI rankings.
On the other hand, the Proteas squad currently boasts of some of the finest cricketers from across the world and their equally fearsome bowling attack makes them a formidable side. Hashim Amla is a world class batsman at the top and is pretty consistent in all formats of the game. His wicket would be the key for the Indian bowlers. The Proteas have a commendable skipper in AB de Villliers, who is ranked at number two in ODI rankings after Virat Kohli. AB will have the onus to stitch crucial partnerships considering their batting collapse against Pakistan in the recently concluded series.
The difference between the two sides is the bowling department. Three of the South African pacers – Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe are among the top ten bowlers in the ODI rankings. Even though Ravindra Jadeja is ahead of all of them at number two after Saeed Ajmal, it is yet to be seen whether Jadeja’s spin can make any sort of impact on the South African pitches which assist the pacers.
Players to watch out for:
India: While many believe him to be the next run-machine after Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli has of late proven his abilities in all formats of the game. Kohli who was excluded from ICC’s ODI team of the year, will be keen to improve his batting record overseas.
In the bowling department, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar would want to make the best of his abilities to swing the ball both ways, all eyes would be on Mohammad Shami, who displayed a breathtaking spell of swing bowling in Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series.
South Africa: Hashim Amla is an integral part of the Proteas squad in all formats of the game. Usually he goes on to play a big knock if he sees the first 10-15 overs for his side.
In the bowling department, Dale Steyn is a name that can trouble the best of the batsmen in the business. It would be an interesting to see the contest between the Indian batsmen and Dale Steyn.
The match will start at 6:00 pm IST on Thursday