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India vs South Africa 2020, 1st ODI: Can India overcome adversity versus buzzing Proteas? 

  • South Africa certainly have the psychological edge but expect the home side to dust themselves off and turn back the clock.
Aryan Surana
Modified 12 Mar 2020, 16:21 IST

All smiles as Indian players train on match eve.
All smiles as Indian players train on match eve.

How the tables have turned. India had garnered phenomenal success across formats throughout the previous calendar year before being walloped by New Zealand in the latter half of their assignment down under. The consecutive series whitewashes against the Black Caps blemished the glorious run Virat Kohli's men had enjoyed hitherto and left them yearning, rather uncharacteristically, for the sweet taste of victory.

Contrastingly, South Africa, their ebb-and-flow performance patterns and off-field governance conundrum notwithstanding, have grit their teeth and managed to clean sweep favorites Australia in the three-match one-day rubber. For the Proteas, the green shoots are finally becoming visible under Quinton de Kock's tutelage after months of fruitless drudgery, whereas India finds themselves stuck in an unusually rough patch before their three-match ODI series commences.

The fortunes have reversed quite dramatically. Hence, now when both teams lock horns in the ODI series opener on Thursday at the picturesque Dharamsala stadium, the atmosphere would be replete with anticipation. For good reason too. Their egos bruised, India will leave no stone unturned in their endeavor to get back to winning ways, while South Africa would be looking forward to prolonging the hosts' agony. The purposes vary but rest assured there'll be no shortage of high-octane cricketing entertainment. After all, India have pride at stake.

Also see – PSL most wickets

Coming back

Eyeing resurgence, India will cherish the return of fit-again experienced campaigners Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The pinch-hitting all-rounder Pandya has already trumpeted his arrival, slamming two mind-boggling centuries to light up the DY Patil Twenty20 Cup.

Talking about comebacks, South Africa have recalled Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen. Moreover, Janneman Malan, who recently scored his maiden international hundred, was awarded for his promising knock and accommodated into the touring party at the eleventh hour.

Hardly can positive results elude India for long. Considering India's poor show of late, South Africa certainly have the psychological edge but expect the home side to dust themselves off and turn back the clock. Will normal services resume for India eventually, or will the Proteas build on the newfangled momentum and continue to make merry? One thing's for sure. Nestled between pristine snow-capped mountains, the spectacular venue guarantees an enthralling contest.

Match Details: India vs South Africa, 1st ODI

Venue: Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala

Date and Timings: Thursday, 12 March 2020, 1:30 PM IST

What to expect: Rain spoiling the fun big time. Yes, you read that right. The playing surface was cocooned under multiple layers of tarpaulin and could remain so on match day given the ominous weather forecast. However, should the weather gods permit, chasing targets is obviously recommended. New-ball merchants will relish the fresh breeze which supports lateral movement. Last but not the least, the frenzy surrounding the corona virus epidemic might impact attendance.

Team News:

India: Having regained match fitness, the three veterans will walk into the eleven hands down. Prithvi Shaw should ideally join Dhawan at the opening slot ahead of Shubman Gill. Manish Pandey has filed timely reminders of his potential and deserves further opportunities. Ravindra Jadeja's willow-wielding calibre means either Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal will carry drinks.

Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal/ Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

South Africa: Although Temba Bavuma's inclusion remains subject to fitness, pace spearhead Lungi Ngidi should be raring to go after having rested adequately. du Plessis and van der Dussen's presence will strengthen the middle order while Keshav Maharaj could feature as the lone tweaker considering the swing-friendly conditions.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (c), Janneman Malan, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller/ Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lungi Ngidi, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, Keshav Maharaj.

What they said:

"It's difficult to maintain pace when you are returning from an injury because it always plays on the mind that if you strive for pace then the injury might reoccur. The best option is such a case is to play matches as much as possible to gain confidence that you are fit," Bhuvneshwar Kumar highlighted during the pre-match presser.
Published 12 Mar 2020, 00:36 IST
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