After a poor start to 2020, (losing a Test series against England in January and T20I series’ against both England and Australia in February) few people gave South Africa a chance to win the recent ODI series against the Aussies.
But they surprised everybody, showing good temperament and skill to whitewash the Australians 3-0. The victories (with win margins of 74 runs, six wickets and six wickets) could not have been more emphatic. From an individual point of view, a number of players, such as Janneman Malan, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller and Lungi Ngidi to name a few, put in outstanding performances. Moving on to the team as a collective, South Africa showed that they can compete with the best.
With the aforementioned series done and dusted, the focus now shifts to India, where South Africa will play 3 ODIs starting on Thursday. The clash has the potential to be a entertaining one between two highly talented teams.
For the series, South Africa have selected a 16-man squad. As such, South Africa have a few combinations that they can try in the upcoming match at Dharamsala. On that note, here is the visitors’ strongest possible playing XI for the first ODI.
Openers | Quinton de Kock, Janneman Malan
Quinton de Kock had a lean series with the bat against Australia (43 ODI runs at 14.33) and will thus be keen to make up for it against India. He certainly loves playing against the subcontinental side, as highlighted by his record against them: 784 runs in 13 ODI matches at an average of 60.30 and 137 runs in 3 T20I matches.
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Janneman Malan will open the batting with de Kock. Malan was one of South Africa’s heroes with the bat against Australia, smashing an unbeaten 129 in the second ODI to steer his team to a series win. It is obvious that he has the temperament, power game, and the technique needed to forge a long and successful career at the highest level.
Middle-order | Faf du Plessis, Jon-Jon Smuts, Kyle Verreyne, Heinrich Klaasen
Faf du Plessis, who last played an ODI in July 2019, could make his return to the ODI side, possibly competing for the No. 3 position with Rassie van der Dussen, but is likely to get the nod because of his substantial experience in Indian conditions. The former South African captain has played 10 ODI matches in India, scoring 394 runs at an average of 65.66. He has also played in seven seasons of IPL cricket.
Jon-Jon Smuts, a hard-hitting batsman and off-spin bowler, played what could be a breakthrough innings in the third ODI against Australia (84 runs). Smuts could be an important cog in South African’s batting line-up at Dharamsala. As a bonus he also offers another bowling option.
The young and talented Kyle Verreyne, who made a couple of valuable contributions in his debut series against Australia, should slot in at number five. Heinrich Klaasen, who has scored 242 runs in three ODI matches and 88 runs in two T20Is since the start of 2020, will round off the top-six.
Lower order | David Miller, Andile Phelukwayo
In the previous ODI match at Dharamsala, played between hosts India and Sri Lanka in December 2017, the visitors made full use of swinging and seaming conditions to leave India in calamity at 29-7. Thanks to MS Dhoni (65 runs), they did well to recover and score 112 runs.
Having looked at this, South Africa will need as strong a batting line-up as possible for Thursday’s match. That is why David Miller might come in as low as No. 7. Despite that, he may still have a crucial role to fulfil in the match – either finishing the innings or re-building it.
Next in, at number eight will be Andile Phelukwayo. Apart from being a handy batsman, he has the ability to move the ball off the pitch (which may come in handy).
Fast bowlers | Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Beuran Hendricks
The pace bowling brigade will consist of Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Beuran Hendricks. All three pacemen have wicket-taking ability, by means of using their respective strengths of extra bounce, pace and swing. Ngidi, who has 53 wickets to his name in only 26 matches, is the most experienced of the trio.
Strongest possible playing XI:
Quinton de Kock (c and wk), Janneman Malan, Faf du Plessis, Jon-Jon Smuts, Kyle Verreyne, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Andile Phelukwayo, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Beuran Hendricks