The South African cricket team is all set to tour India with three ODI matches, starting March 12. The Proteas, who had a woeful campaign in the ICC World Cup 2019, showed a better frame of mind in the two ODI series of late.
The three-match ODI series against England ended in a 1-1 affair. SA also trumped Australia 3-0 in the recently-concluded ODI series at home.
Now ahead of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League, the three-match ODI series will be another testament for Quinton de Kock’s men.
They are up against heavyweights India, who would be wanting to make amends after a devastating 3-0 loss against New Zealand last month away from home. India, who were outplayed across departments in the ODIs, will need to come up with a better approach.
Of late, the Proteas managed to show some authority with the bat. Against England, they chased down 258 in the first ODI with seven wickets to spare.
And then against the Aussies, the Proteas scripted a 73-run win, followed by two successive six-wicket victories to hammer Aaron Finch’s men.
When you look at the numbers, SA showed character in terms of consistency with the bat. This is something that eluded them for quite some time across formats. This is a major plus for De Kock & Co. ahead of the India ODIs.
In the table below, we highlight South Africa’s four recent wins in the 50-over format across two unbeaten ODI series. SA won these four games this year.
|Score||Opponent||Margin of win||Highest run-scorer|
|259/3||England||7 wickets||De Kock (107)|
|291/7||Australia||74 runs||Klaasen (123)|
|274/4||Australia||6 wickets||Malan (129)|
|258/4||Australia||6 wickets||Smuts (84)|
Looking at these victories, SA went on to show that you have different personalities taking charge and getting the job done. The onus isn’t just on one player to bear the responsibility. Based on circumstances, both the top order and players in the middle made useful contributions. Against India, this will be a major asset for South Africa.
South Africa need to showcase batting heroics on Indian soil
South Africa played five ODIs on home soil recently and managed to carve out four victories. However, the prospect of beating India in India will be a stern test. For that to happen, the Proteas need to bat their skins out on pitches that often aid spin and are batting friendly tracks.
With India having a solid batting line-up, one can expect the Proteas being asked to put up scores of 300-plus and chase similar targets when batting second. SA will look up to players like De Kock and David Miller, who have plenty of experience in the sub-continent.
If SA manage to inflict a series defeat upon India, the confidence will be sky high. This can even rub off on their performances in the T20Is. With this being the year of the ICC T20 World Cup, SA can draw inspiration from their performances in ODIs. Therefore, a positive result against India is important.
The last time SA toured India for the ODI series, was in 2015. In the five-match series, SA stunned India 3-2. They got crucial wins in Kanpur, Rajkot and Mumbai. So, one can expect the side to draw inspiration from the previous ODI series held between the two nations on Indian soil.
SA will need in-form batsmen to continue their run
The major plus for South Africa against the Aussies was players like Heinrich Klaasen showing purple patch with the bat. The wicket-keeper batsman got a century and two fifties to light up the show. Going into the India series, Klaasen needs to make his form count and deliver the goods. His runs and positivity in the middle order could do SA a lot of good.
The Australia series was a crucial one for someone like a Klaasen. He will hope to take the pressure away from De Kock atop and someone like a Miller in the middle order. Going against quality spinners and an experience pace-bowling unit will test the mettle of Klaasen.
Here’s how Klaasen performed in the series against Australia.
Meanwhile, the experience brought into the fold by players like De Kock and Faf du Plessis will be immense as well. SA have a strong mix of batsmen and they can choose wisely. Players like Temba Bavuma, JJ Smuts, Miller and Jaaneman Malan can chip in with substantial scores.
Partnerships will be key and that played a crucial role in the series against Australia.
Can the bowling stop Team India?
In the last five ODIs, the Proteas side accounted for a total of 43 wickets. That’s a significant number against teams like England and Australia. Out of these 43 wickets, the pacers claimed 29 scalps. The spinners too performed at a decent rate.
Against India, the SA pace battery will be their main asset. Bowlers like Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Beuran Hendricks will be highly crucial. Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi will need to handle the spin department well. The presence of Smuts as an all-rounder is also highly significant.
SA cannot let India off the hook with the bat. The likes of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer possess top qualities and it’s a challenge that the SA bowlers will want to take it in their strides and get going. They have to bowl intelligently and in the right channels to test Indian batsmen.
One can expect the side to do its homework on the Indian players and set the standards high.