India are back in the comfort of home conditions but they can hardly afford to relax. Not after the drubbing in New Zealand. Given the low temperatures in Dharamsala and the threat of rain looming, India might not yet feel completely at home either.
Even though it’s a year when ODIs are on the backburner to the Test Championship and the T20 World Cup, India have reputations to mend after they went through the shredder in New Zealand.
The returning trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar elicit curiosity, but they will certainly strengthen the side. Dhawan slots right back at the top, providing much-needed experience there, particularly in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma. Pandya and Bhuvneshwar’s returns complicate team composition, but it’s a welcome headache to have.
Ravindra Jadeja made himself indispensable as the allrounder in Pandya’s absence, but he was filling in for him, so will he now make way for him? One option India might exercise is to have both Pandya and Jadeja bat in the top seven, thereby giving themselves six frontline bowling options, especially after failing to defend big totals twice in New Zealand. Plus, if Bhuvneshwar slots in at eight, it further lengthens the batting, an incessant bugbear of this team.
For South Africa, the last few months have been a rollercoaster with a management overhaul, a second successive home Test series defeat – albeit a year apart – and subsequent and sudden white-ball resurgence. They surprised India in the T20Is late last year, leveling that series one-each, but will have higher ambitions this time. The return of Faf du Plessis bolsters a batting line-up that really found its moorings against Australia, but wears an inexperienced look in these conditions. The inexperienced attack led by the in-form Lungi Ngidi might not feel entirely out of depth in Dharamsala where the pitch can assist the quicks and further inspiration can be drawn from the fact that two other teams – England and Sri Lanka – have previously bowled India out cheaply at this venue.
Series: South Africa Tour of India 3 ODI Series
Teams: India vs South Africa
Match: 1st ODI
Time: 1:30 PM IND
Date: March 12, 2020