South Africa vs India 2018, 2nd ODI: How the two teams stack up before the match
It is indeed surprising how the tables have turned ever since that dreadful fifth day at the venue - where India and South Africa are set to return for the second ODI of the six-match series - the SuperSport Park at Centurion. The venue, where India, thanks to a plethora of bizarre team selections and meek batting display barring their captain, squandered the series, now offers the tourists a chance to move a step closer towards winning their first-ever series in South Africa.
India have had happy memories of the venue in ODI cricket, most famous being their win over Pakistan in 2003 World Cup, engineered by the genius of Sachin Tendulkar.
India's ODI record at Centurion
Seldom have we seen a visiting team chasing at Durban with such immaculate ease which India demonstrated a few days ago. That result gives a few insights into the strength and weaknesses of both the teams, a detailed analysis of which may reveal intriguing subplots for the upcoming ODI.
That India's win was engineered on the genius of the 'chase-master' Virat Kohli is true, it, however, cannot be denied that the assuring presence of Ajinkya Rahane at No.4, who looked at ease while tackling the pace and bounce of Morris, Rabada, and co. helped Virat Kohli settle down into his rhythm after the latter had been involved in the runout of Shikhar Dhawan.
Rahane's performance at Durban also helped India move in the right direction towards solving their No.4 spot conundrum, and a few more such performances can put it to rest at least, for a foreseeable future. Kohli, on the other hand, gave an absolute masterclass in run chasing bringing up his 20th century in a run chase in the process.
We know, just as in the Tests, Kohli is the backbone. If we get him, we put pressure on them.
~ Faf du Plessis
If the defeat wasn't enough, the hosts have suffered another setback, with Du Plessis being ruled out for the remainder of the series due to a fractured finger. Faf's injury gives South Africa an opportunity though, to peak into their future with Aiden Markram having been handed over the captaincy, their long-term prospect after this current batch runs its course.
Aiden Markram set to become the 2nd youngest captain for South Africa, after Graeme Smith.
The biggest of South Africa's problems, however, is their middle order's fragility against India's wrist-spinners, an aspect of their game that will be tested to the hilt in the absence of AB de Villiers and skipper Faf du Plessis. But South Africa's loss is India's gain. It is almost since India's white ball awakening after the Champions Trophy, where the spinners failed to apply the middle overs choke, Kohli and the think tank has sworn allegiance to wrist spin and his decision to play both of them at Durban was another stamp of approval of the change in mindset. But its only one game and the South Africans would be hoping that pitches don't replicate Durban's hospitability.
South Africa will require their openers, particularly Hashim Amla, who hasn't crossed 37 runs against the tourists in his last ten innings, to set up the game for the middle order. They will also need Imran Tahir at the peak of his prowess, whose ten wicketless overs were milked with relative ease in the first game, rendering one of South Africa's most enduring white ball cricket weapons toothless.
India had turned it around significantly after initial hiccups, and the onus is now on South Africa to respond to the adversity. With an eye on next year's World Cup, and it being a six-match series South Africa can still afford to experiment with their combinations, but if they were to go 0-2 down after Centurion, the margin for error in the remainder of the series will contract significantly.
India buoyed by the win at Durban are likely to go with the same XI.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah
Faf du Plessis's injury has opened up another middle order slot for South Africa, with Farhaan Behardien being the logical replacement due to his experience. But with World Cup in sight, they may try out uncapped Khaya Zondo, who they picked ahead of Behardien in the original squad. The hosts may also look to bring in Lungi Ngidi in place of Phehlukwayo, who was ordinary in the first game.
Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (WK), Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram (C), JP Duminy, Khaaya Zondo/Farhaan Behardien, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo/Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir