India were routed in the T20 series. Quite badly, too! The South Africans are high in spirit and have every reason to be optimistic about emulating their T20 success in the ODI series. The Indian team, on the other hand, need just one good match to bring things back on track. India v South Africa 1st ODI presents them with the best opportunity to make amends for the mistakes committed in the T20 series.
Indian bowling needs some zing, Ashwin to be the trump card
It was a below-par show by the bowlers, with the notable exception of Ashwin, that did India in during the T20 series. The death bowling continued to be erratic. Over reliance on Ravichandran Ashwin meant dissipation of pressure created on the opposition as soon as his quota was over. Surely, a few things need to change for India’s own benefit.
Umesh Yadav’s presence in the team promises to be a double edged sword. He can sometimes dazzle us with his brilliance; and yet at the same time he can give away runs and yield any advantage that has been gained at will on other occasions. A hail and hearty Yadav, charging in with full gusto in the death overs, is something that India would sorely need. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with valuable experience of quality death bowling in the IPL, has to start believing in his abilities again.
One among Stuart Binny and Axar Patel can make the cut in the playing XI. Patel, however, was disappointing in the T20 series, both with the bat and the ball. With a day-match on the cards, and with the dew factor out of the equation, we might also see an Amit Mishra in action. Mishra was brilliant against Sri Lanka in the Test series, and can alter the match dynamics on this occasion too.
South Africa bank on AB de Villiers, JP Duminy
They are in top form, and that needs no highlighting. However, David Millier, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla have still not become menacing enough for India. They got limited exposure in the 2 T20s, and India will be desperate to ensure they do not settle quickly enough. Umesh Yadav’s pace, if directed well, can trouble Amla at the top of the order. Ashwin’s unpredictable variations can help India sneak into the South African middle order quickly enough. However, as observed during the T20s, this would entail discipline from the rest of the bowling unit for a significant length of time.
A Steyn-Morkel-Morris pace battery is what South Africa would hope to make the best use of. Indian batsmen have proven vulnerable to incisive pace bowling in the past. The zip that Kyle Abbott and Chris Morris extracted from the Cuttack track in the 2nd T20 was enough to topple the Indian top order. Pace and bounce can thus be expected to be on the menu for Indian batsmen yet again.
India v South Africa 1st ODI
Start Time – 09:00 IST
Venue – Kanpur