As India takes on South Africa in the series opener in Dharamsala tomorrow, we take a look at 4 players from either sides who will be the players to watch out for in these 3 matches. India have got a good blend of youth and experience on a relative scale while Proteas are mostly young raw bloods who will be looking for opportunities to express themselves in the series. The series starts on 12th March and ends on 18th with the final ODI being played in Kolkata.
Hardik Pandya has not played any ODI match for India since the World Cup semifinal in July and he is finally fit and rearing to go in the 50 Overs format as he comes back from an intensive but successful surgery to treat his lower back issue which kept him out of cricket for about 5 months. Hardik last played an international match in September last year which was a T20 match against the same opponent which he’d play in the next 3 games.
Pandya played an instrumental role in India’s ODI team makeover as he is not just someone who is explosive with bat and provides the much needed quick finishes at the end but he also allows Indian team to go back to their strength, i.e, to play the dynamic pair of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal together. Whether India plays Kulcha together in the match tomorrow or not is a different thing but Hardik’s presence solves this important puzzle for India.
The Baroda born All Rounder is coming on the back of two blistering 100s in the DY Patil T20 cup where his scores read 105(39) and 158(55) and it never looked like he was coming after a break of around 5 months from competitive cricket. He will have the most eyes on him in this series.
One of the key members of Indian bowling lineup, Bhuvneshwar Kumar would try to make his presence felt as he will be returning to strengthen India’s fast bowling after a period of more than 6 months in the ODI set up. The UP born pacer last played an ODI Match for India in August 2019 when India toured West Indies after World Cup semifinal debacle.
In the absence of Bhuvneshwar, Indian bowling has not been at its best although, there are few more key components involved to reach to this conclusion. Despite his dip in form, Jasprit Bumrah is undoubtedly India’s first pick as pacer. Mohammad Shami is a very competent option for the second seamer but he has been rested for this series which provides Bhuvneshwar an ideal opportunity to impress one and all in this short series.
Bhuvi will have to be more lethal with the new and the old ball and pick more wickets as his strike rate of 41 doesn’t give a good impression about his wicket taking ability. Even on his last trip to South Africa, Bhuvi had only managed to pick 4 wickets in 6 games at a poor strike rate of 64.
Also read :
Along with a very pleasing result, South Africa had plenty to gain from the series against Australia and one of those pluses was Janneman Malan who scored a scintillating maiden 100 in only his second ODI. At international level, Malan is still very raw and that’s what makes him a watchable prospect in the upcoming series.
Malan had scores of 0, 129 not out and 23 in his last series and even though the numbers are not sufficient to draw any conclusion about him as a player, his List A records suggest he is a very fluent batsman and a natural shot maker and the Indian batting friendly conditions will suit his style of batting. Malan, with De Kock would be very exciting to watch even as an Indian fan.
Rassie van der Dussen
The South African middle order batsman Rassie van der Dussen with a batting average of 70 is always a center of attention as he should be. In his very short career of 16 ODI innings, he has made a name for himself as he has one of the best ratios for innings to fifties in the history of cricket. He has got 7 50s in 16 innings which puts him on the 5th in this list.
Dussen is a quality middle order batsman who has filled the void in South Africa’s middle order very efficiently. He will play a key role if South Africa have to do well in this tough series.