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India favourites as Quinton de Kock new injury concern for depleted South Africa

The Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team will look to build on their victory in the first ODI against South Africa at Durban in the second of the six games at Centurion on Sunday.

cricket Updated: Feb 03, 2018 23:12 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Centurion
India vs South Africa,South Africa vs India,Indian cricket team
India batsmen Virat Kohli (L) and Ajinkya Rahane led them to victory against South Africa in the first ODI at Kingsmead in Durban.(AFP)

From being mere challengers to South Africa’s dominance at home in ODIs, the touring India have become favourites within a couple of days.

Ahead of this series, while India had a worry about their middle order at No. 4, South Africa’s looked pretty solid. The roles have been reversed now.

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After drawing first blood at Durban, Virat Kohli’s men got a further boost through misfortune to South Africa after skipper Faf du Plessis, who scored 120 at Kingsmead, was ruled out of the rest of the limited-overs series due to injury, leaving a big hole in the batting order.

AB de Villiers was ruled out of the first three ODIs, also due to a finger injury. All this leaves stand-in captain Aiden Markram, who struggled against spin while batting at No. 4 in the first game, with his task cut out.

Quinton struggles

As if South Africa missing their regular No 3 and 4 batsmen wasn’t enough, wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock too was an injury worry on the eve of the second ODI.

De Kock had his hand strapped on Saturday, and the Proteas have called up Heinrich Klaasen as standby keeper. However, de Kock is expected to play, a member of the team management said.

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The South Africans were seen batting for long against Chinaman bowler, Tabriz Shamsi, and leg-spinner Imran Tahir with Markram looking to get a hang of the sweep shot. Faf du Plessis stood beside him, acting as his instructor.

Du Plessis said after the Durban game that he expected India to play both spinners irrespective of the wickets. However, he expected the surfaces to be true in the remaining games.

Plugging No.4

That should make conditions better for batting. India’s No 4 Ajinkya Rahane, adept at playing pace, will find that to his liking. Rahane’s inclusion seems to have solved the No. 4 conundrum after he came good in the previous game. The skill and experience he brought to the table made the 269-run chase look easy.

“We knew we had to target some bowlers. They had Rabada upfront and Tahir in the middle overs who could trouble us. We ensured we took singles and didn’t leave much for the end,” said Rahane, explaining how he and Virat Kohli, who hit 112, had paced their partnership in the first ODI.

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While his induction makes Indian batting look much stronger, there is concern at the top as Rohit Sharma’s poor run in South Africa continues. He averages just around 13 in ODIs here.

Though Centurion has been South Africa’s fortress in Tests, India have an even record against the hosts in ODIs. They’ve won two and lost two with the last one, in 2013, washed out. However, India have lost the last two ODIs, and importantly, their batsmen have struggled in all the five matches they’ve played here against the hosts.

First Published: Feb 03, 2018 20:09 IST