India end their home summer of international cricket with a three-match ODI series against a South African team in transition. The Proteas are fresh off a convincing performance against the in-form Australia. They played to their strengths, and despite the likes of Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada not being in the mix, managed to upstage the Aussies.
They found stars for the short- and long-term in the form of Anrich Nortje, Heinrich Klassen, Janemann Malan and Lungi Ngidi. They will be up against a formidable Indian team, who look even stronger with the return of match-winners like Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
It would be fair to say that India are the favorites because they are playing in familiar conditions at home. However, based on their showing against Australia, the Proteas are unlikely to be mere pushovers.
Here's looking at five players to watch out for in the ODI series that starts from 12 March:
1. Quinton de Kock
Captaincy can make or break a cricketer. And Quinton de Kock has clearly embraced captaincy; since becoming the full-time skipper in both T20Is and ODIs, he has taken his game one notch higher.
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De Kock's confidence levels are clearly on the rise. He was in scintillating touch in the T20I series in India last year which ended 1-1. He was also in very good form during SA's home summer, right up to the ODI series against Australia.
The skipper is someone who enjoys playing in India, as he has had a fairly nice time playing in the IPL. He will be extremely crucial to South Africa's chances in this three-match ODI series.
2. KL Rahul
KL Rahul is in the form of his life. More importantly, he is willing to take up any role that comes his way.
While Rishabh Pant has squandered most of his chances, Rahul has grabbed the opportunity to seal his place in both the T20I and the ODI team as the wicketkeeper-batsman. There has been no stopping Rahul of late, and he will be keen to continue his form ahead of the IPL - where he will be leading KXIP.
3. Hardik Pandya
India lacked a bowling all-rounder in the ODIs against New Zealand; having the likes of Kedar Jadhav and Shivam Dube in the mix didn't help their cause. That's where Hardik Pandya could prove to be extremely useful.
Pandya took his game to another level in IPL 2019, providing a string of destructive performances with the bat for Mumbai Indians. Even as a bowler he has improved his variations considerably, and in the ODI series against South Africa he would be expected to bowl 5-6 overs every match.
This series marks Pandya's return to the ODI squad, and he would be eager to strike some form ahead of the bigger assignments to follow.
4. Heinrich Klaasen
South Africa were struggling to find someone who could take on the mantle of Faf du Plessis, someone who could play the anchor role as well as go after the bowling when required. That is exactly what Heinrich Klaasen did in the recently concluded series against Australia.
He played out the big threats like Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins early and went after the likes of Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa. His efforts even earned him the Man of the Series award.
Klaasen is an in-form batsman who can play spin well. The question now is whether he can carry forward his form into the upcoming ODI series and the IPL.
5. David Miller
South Africa's abysmal showing in the ICC World Cup 2019 had a lot to do with the lack of contributions from the likes of Du Plessis and David Miler. But Miller, who has been given a lot of chances over the past few years, proved his worth in the recently concluded ODI series against Australia.
He played the sheet anchor role along with Klaasen, and got the job done with aplomb. The explosive shots that Miller is known for were on full display too.
His string of poor form saw him go unsold at the player auction for IPL 2020. That would be another incentive for Miller to re-assert his subcontinent credentials in the upcoming ODI series.