Team India will be facing South Africa at Kingsmead today for the first ODI. After losing test series 2-1, change of colors must be relieving for the visitors. India have built a reputation of being ODI specialist side while stuttering in tests and T20s. This time around, even the preferred format won’t be easy. South Africa have not lost a single ODI at home since early 2016. After winning the test series, their confidence will be sky high. In front of a cheering crowd, it’ll be very tough to defeat South Africa. Here is what team India must do to achieve the same:
Sort Out Opening Slot
One major problem for India in tests was losing early wickets. Shikhar Dhawan’s abysmal performance saw him being dropped. KL Rahul was roped in for providing better support to Murali Vijay. But this combination wasn’t successful. For the ODIs, Rohit Sharma is the permanent opener. His ODI form has been monstrous and it is highly unlikely that his performance in tests will see him being dropped. Partnering Rohit with a suitable batsman is the key here. Ajinkya Rahane has opened in past. Slotting in Rahane up top will mean a middle order place for Shreyas Iyer or Manish Pandey.
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Pace Vs Spin: Search For Balance
Indian spinners are known to cause trouble to batsmen. However, pitch is different here and Virat Kohli favours pace attack. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are specialist spinners in the squad and both are wicket taking bowlers. A playing eleven consisting of both the spinners is rarely seen. In today’s match, a slot for even one of them remains under question. For variety in bowling attack, playing one spinner would be beneficial. In that case, Shardul Thakur will be sitting out. Chahal is known for strangling the batsmen and that’s why he will have upper hand on Kuldeep’s mystery spin. Chahal along 3 pacers will balance the team nicely with Pandya chipping in some overs.
Sharing Batting Workload
Virat Kohli is arguably the best batsman in the world. He scores heavily at brisk pace. But with such a megastar in the team, other batsmen should not be relaxed. Tests saw Kohli leading the run charts with no other Indian batsman around him. Cheteshwar Pujara has already joined Yorkshire and he was the second best batsman in tests for India. It means others must step up their game and take the burden off Kohli. Slightly lesser experienced players like Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer in the middle order must fight for cementing their place and help the team in process.
Role Of Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Captain or not, MSD’s talent is rare. He needs no introduction and his contribution to the team is second to none. On the wrong side of 30s,lot of “experts” have tried their best to criticize the world cup winning captain. MSD’s wicketkeeping skills are unmatched in the country till date. Gloves or no gloves, his numbers as a pure batsman can put anyone to shame. But he hasn’t been assigned a fixed role in the batting line-up. With his experience, he is best suited for fourth spot, guiding the new guys in the middle of the inning. He can finish the game too, but Hardik Pandya must take that responsibility now. Efficient use of MSD’s prowess will result in India seeing the game through.
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