The touring Proteas side convincingly outclassed the home team in the T20 series as they won 2-0 in a three match series with the match at Kolkata abandoned without a ball being bowled.
The focus now turns towards the ODI series between the two sides which is going to be a lot more testing for both teams as compared to the T20s. India are a very strong side at home and teams struggle to perform against them especially due to the fact that the spinning tracks are a menace for visiting teams and in particular those who are from outside the subcontinent. If South Africa are to lay an impact on Indian soil they have to be figure out a way to improve their batting against spin and perhaps if they take on the Indian spinners with an aggressive and positive approach rather than being bogged down and playing into the hands of the Indian spin trap.
India have a lot at stake as they have to bounce back after the T20 disaster and win back the hearts of the Indian spectators who are extremely disappointed to see the lack luster performance from their current outfit in the T20s and a glimpse of that was shown in the Cuttack incident. Although India are very strong ODI side with the likes of Kohli, Rohit and Rahane performing consistently on home tracks with the bat and Ashwin leading them through his skillful variety in bowling but they should not take the the Proteas side lightly at all because they are one of the few sides in the world who have a very good record away from home as well. The home side will dearly miss their top fast bowler Mohamamd Shami who is recovering from an injury and might make a comeback in the 4th ODI but not before.
Captain MS Dhoni will be under the spot light as well because he has been facing criticisms from all corners and this series will go a long way in deciding his fate as Indian captain and player. Agit Agarkar recently talking to ESPNcricinfo has criticized Dhoni’s inclusion in the team and asked selectors to closely monitor him. He said
“the selectors need to have a closer look at what MS Dhoni is doing, not just as captain, but as a player as well”.
Regarding captaincy of MS, Agarkar said
“The selectors maybe need to look at where the Indian team is heading because Virat Kohli has done well as captain in Test cricket so maybe the selectors need to make that call after this series.’
The South African side on the other hand a well knit unit in ODIs and are 3rd in the rankings behind India. A team that has players such as Hashim Amla at the top, the flamboyant AB De Villiers and killer Miller and Duminy can easily outplay any opponent on a given day. In the bowling department Imran Tahir will have a role to play as the pitches will most likely be spinner friendly but his work will be cut out because the Indian batsmen are very good players off spin bowling. The faster men will have to vary their bowling so that the batsman don’t settle in too quickly because of the one paced nature of the pitch. The saffers will be reinforced in the bowling department by the inclusion of the world best bowler Dale Steyn in their ranks.
The series will be significant impact on the rankings of both sides as they are chasing each other closely on the table. If South Africa win the series 4-1 they will snatch the second spot from India. If they win 3-2 the rankings will stay the same but the gap between the two sides will close down.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Rohit Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh and Amit Mishra
South Africa: AB De Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf Du Plessis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris, Khaya Zondo, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir, Morne Morekl, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada.