Cricket

India looks to outsmart South Africa in ODI series

[caption id="attachment_62428" align="alignnone" width="580"]DSC09062 The Indian think tank comprising Virat Kohli (middle) with MS Dhoni and Head Coach Ravi Shastri in discussion at Kingsmead on Tuesday.[/caption]

Debasis Sen, Durban: India will look to outsmart South Africa as the both teams face each other in a six match ODI series starting from Saturday  at Kingsmead. Buoyed by the brilliant 63 runs win in the third test match at Wanderers, the men in blue will look to carry on the momentum going into the ODI series.

The Indians already began their preparations for the first ODI at Kingsmead. Virat Kohli and his team will have a few things to settle down against the Proteas as the last time they played an ODI series here, they were outplayed on that occasion. But on that occasion, they played the ODI series before the Tests, whereas now most of the ODI squad has had a month to get a taste of South African conditions. In fact the Indians have never won a bilateral series in the rainbow nation. It was 3-2 in 2010-11, 4-0 in 2006-07 and 5-2 further back in 1992-93.

The ODI series will present an opportunity for the team management to identify a permanent No 4. With rookie Shreyas Iyer coming good in the series against Sri Lanka at home in December, it will be interesting how he copes against the Proteas bowlers.

The biggest selection decision going into the first game would be deciding if they want to play two spinners (out of three available) or sacrifice one for an extra seamer (if the conditions demand it). Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are certainty for the first ODI.

Another player whom the team management will have a close watch will be left arm spinner Axar Patel. He's managed to stay in the squad despite India's decision to move on to wrist spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. If India needed a control spinner of the left-arm orthodox variety, you would assume Ravindra Jadeja fits that bill pretty well with his fielding and hitting abilities. But India seem to see a spark in Axar. He is capable of bowling 10 overs for about 45 on a tough bowling day.

Another selection dilemma for the team management will be to play Kedar Jadhav or Manish Pandey. Kedar Jadhav is likely to return to the XI after recovering from his hamstring injury that kept him out of the Sri Lanka series. Pandey on the other hand had a wonderful series with the A team here in August last year.

The Indians had a rigorous practice session at the Kingsmead on Tuesday. The players were seen practising a fielding drill with the tyres kept on the ground to put over the covers. The edges of the tyres are different from the edges of the bat and when the ball hits the edges of a tyre it takes uneven bounce which makes it difficult for the close in fielders to take catches.

Fourth umpire Adrian Holdstock had a inspection of the bats of most of the Indian batsmen (specially the ODI players including MS Dhoni). This was just a routine inspection as the ICC has started acting strongly about the bat sizes following the new rule changes.

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