Virat Kohli and his men are currently playing a three match Test series against South Africa. After taking a 1-0 lead at Centurion, they will be looking to seal the series at Johannesburg. If they manage to do so, it will be their first series victory against the hosts in the longest format. The ODI series which follows the Tests is due to begin on the 19th of January in Paarl.

On January 1, India announced an 18-member squad to take on the Rainbow Nation in a three match ODI series. It includes a lively balance of youth and experience, with some fresh faces adding another layer of excitement to the series. Though India are missing some of their stars such as Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja, both teams seem equally matched on paper which promises an exciting series. Here’s quick guide of BBL match schedule.

Since the series is played under the cloud of the new Omicron variant, the BCCI and CSA have decided to hold it behind closed doors, keeping the safety of the players in mind. The three matches are scheduled for 19th, 21st and 23rd of January.

 

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India’s ODI Squad

Leadership

Perhaps the most interesting take away from the  squad selection is the appointment of the new Captain and Vice Captain. Rohit Sharma has failed to recover from the left hamstring injury which is keeping him out of the ongoing Test series. Late last year, Rohit was handed the permanent ODI captaincy, taking over from Virat Kohli. This series was supposed to be his first assignment as full time ODI Captain of India.

In his absence, the role has been handed over to KL Rahul, who was initially appointed as India’s Vice Captain. Rahul has had ample captaincy experience in the past, leading Karnataka and the Punjab Kings on multiple occasions. However, the first ODI against SA will be his first taste of captaincy on the International stage.

 

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Jasprit Bumrah has been named Rahul’s deputy. The 27 year old is already widely regarded as a leader amongst the players and hence it makes sense to blood him in at the first opportunity. His level headedness and ability to deliver under pressure ensures that he is a genuine candidate for the captaincy after Rohit’s tenure comes to an end.

This shift in leadership marks a clear desire by the selection committee to move on from Virat Kohli. Although the exact details behind his ousting is unknown, many speculate that there is plenty going unsaid behind the scenes. He finishes as India’s third most successful ODI captain, with 65 wins from 95 games. Get free betting tips here in our site.

 

The Batting

Without Rohit Sharma at the top, onus will be on experienced batters KL Rahul and Virat Kohli to step up to the plate. Shikhar Dhawan returns to the National fray after his controversial omission from India’s T20 World Cup squad. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who had a stellar 2021, has also been rewarded with a call up. After a sensational IPL, he emerged as the leading run scorer in the Vijay-Hazare Trophy. He scored 603 runs at an average of 150.75 with 4 hundreds in just five games.

 

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The middle order includes the usual suspects like Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan. Only one of those three is likely to play, with India probably opting for an all rounder at number 6. Former skipper Virat Kohli will be itching to get back into top form again after two mediocre years in the format. (by his standards)

The wicket keeping duties will once again fall into the hands of Rishabh Pant, who will also likely slot in at number 5. In the recent past, he has developed into a reliable keeper against both spin and pace after a few tweaks in his technique. The bounce and carry on hard South African pitches will be a welcome challenge for the young Pant, who will hope to cement his spot once and for all. Ishan Kishan is the backup glovesman, with KL Rahul filling in if required.

 

The Bowling

Keeping the conditions in mind, India have stocked up on their fast bowling reserves. A total of six pacers means that they alone make up one-third of the entire squad. Jasprit Bumrah will lead the attack, with the others probably being used in rotation. Bhuvneshwar Kumar continues his comeback into international cricket after a successful 2021. Mohammed Siraj has been selected largely on the basis of his red ball performances over the past year or so. If he does indeed get a chance to play, it will  be only his second ODI and his first since 2019. The other fast bowlers included are Prasidh Krishna, Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur. The only notable omission is Mohammed Shami.

 

ODI

 

Ravichandran ashwin has been called up to the ODI squad for the first time since 2017. During his couple of years as a Test specialist, Ashwin reinvented his bowling and pushed himself back into contention with strong performances in the IPL. Another notable inclusion is that of leggie Yuzvendra Chahal. He picked up 14 wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy at an average of 15 to recapture the attention of the selectors. The Haryanvi only played two ODIs last year, when India sent a second string side to Sri Lanka. He too will be looking to regain his position India’s first choice white ball spinner.

The All Rounders

India will miss the services of Hardik Pandya, who has requested a break from International cricket to work on his fitness. His absence will be an opportunity for Venkatesh Iyer to make a mark. He impressed one and all in the IPL and went on to have a fruitful Vijay Hazare Trophy. In six matches, he scored 379 runs at 63.17. In addition, he took 9 wickets at an average of 30.66. Iyer has reiterated that he is willing to bat anywhere in the batting lineup but it will be interesting to see where Team India use him.

 

ODI

 

The other all rounder in the squad is the returning Washington Sundar, who will double up as the third spinner. Sundar last played for India in March of 2021 and has been out with a hand injury since. Fortunately, he recovered in time to play the VH trophy, where he put in some admirable performances. In the absence of Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya, India will be looking to these players to lengthen the batting lineup and provide a sixth bowling option.

Final Review

The squad looks like it has most basis covered. However, a lot will depend on the young all rounders. If they can play their role well, this team looks like it can go all the way. Fast bowling, especially, seems to be the team’s strength. All three spinners have a point to prove and fans will be hoping that they make the ball talk like they did in 2018.

The batting appears to be in safe hands with the likes of KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. They will, however, come up against a strong South African bowling lineup that is well suited to their home conditions. The young middle order will be tested though they do have the quality to counter these hardships. Shreyas Iyer, who has shown weaknesses against the short ball in the past will have to be at the top of his game if he is to succeed.
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When India last toured in 2018, Virat Kohli and the spinners helped India secure a 5-0 whitewash. Kohli scored 558 runs with three hundreds with the able support of Shikhar Dhawan. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav ran amok, picking up a combined total of 33 wickets.

India’s probable playing 11 for the first ODI:

  1. KL Rahul (C)
  2. Ruturaj Gaikwad/Shikhar Dhawan
  3. Virat Kohli
  4. Shreyas Iyer/Suryakumar Yadav
  5. Rishabh Pant
  6. Venkatesh Iyer
  7. Washington Sundar
  8. Ravichandran Ashwin
  9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Deepak Chahar/Shardul Thakur
  10. Jasprit Bumrah
  11. Mohd. Siraj/Prasidh Krishna

 

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