India Predicted XI vs South Africa 1st ODI: Toss-up between Iyer and Suryakumar, promising 27-year-old in line for debut
India Predicted XI vs South Africa 1st ODI: The 2023 ODI World Cup may still be in the distant future, with 2022 being more of a T20 World Cup year, but the three-match ODI series does present both the sides an opportunity to begin their preparatory journey, trying out new combinations, giving newbies more chances and backing the veterans.
India have picked a considerable number of openers, an uncapped ODI player, some fringe players and a few veteran cricketers in their 19-man squad for the ODI series, leaving quite a few selection headache.
Yet the focus will remain on one - Virat Kohli - and he has possibly given every reason for that over the last few months. From leaving white-ball captaincy to exposing communication gap between players and the BCCI administrators before resigning as Test captain, Kohli has been cynosure of world cricket, let alone Indian cricket. And now with Kohli set to feature only as a player in an international game for the first time since December 2014, the eyes will be the former India skipper who will be raring to make his bat do the talking.
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Pertaining to the selection headaches, stand-in skipper KL Rahul has reduced the task substantially by not just revealing that he would open for India in Rohit Sharma's stead, but has also backed veteran batter Shikhar Dhawan, all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer as the sixth-bowling option and the selection of two spinners in the line-up - Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Here is a look at the predicted playing XI for India:
KL Rahul: Since February 2020, Rahul has featured as a middle-order batting option for India in all his nine appearances in the format scoring 474 runs at an incredible 67.71 with two centuries and three half-centuries. With Rohit absent from the series, owing to his hamstring injury, Rahul will be back to his old spot. He has scored 808 runs as an opener in ODIs at 50.50 with three centuries and five fifties.
Shikhar Dhawan: The veteran Indian opener has been out of limited-overs action since the tour of Sri Lanka last July. He wasn't picked for the 2021 T20 World Cup nor the home T20I series against New Zealand and his performance dipped in domestic cricket. But Dhawan has been handed an opportunity to prove his worth once again with the 36-year-old hoping to extend his stay until the 50-over World Cup.
Virat Kohli: He hasn't scored an international century in 788 days. His numbers in the Test format has dipped since that elusive 70th international ton in November 23 of 2019. However, Kohli has remained equally threatening in the ODIs, scoring 649 runs in his last 15 matches at an average of 43.36 and strike rate of 92.45, which include eight fifties. Moreover, Kohli enjoys playing against South Africa and in South Africa. He has scored 1287 runs against the Proteas, which is the fourth-highest by an Indian, and scored 887 runs in the Rainbow Nation.
Suryakumar Yadav: This will be the major selection headache - Shreyas Iyer or Yadav as India's No.4? Iyer has settled the long-standing No.4 debate having scored 463 runs at that position in 12 games since the 2019 World Cup at 42.09 with one century and four fifties. On the other hand, Yadav, who made his ODI debut in 2021, during the three-match series in Sri Lanka, scored 124 runs in the series at 62 with one half-century. India might go with Yadav as he has proven to be a more stable and threatening option at No.4.
Rishabh Pant: No argument there! The last time Pant played an ODI series, he scored 77 at a strike rate of 192.50 and 78 at a strike rate of 125.80 in consecutive innings during the home series against England in Pune.
Venkatesh Iyer: After all the attention he grabbed as an opener in the UAE leg of IPL 2021 that helped him bag an international debut, Iyer understands that the competition is fierce at the top of the order and the only way to seal his place in the XI will be as a middle-order option. Hence, he batted at that position in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season and ended up scoring 379 runs at an average of 63.16 and a strike rate of 133.92 with two centuries and a fifty. He also picked nine wickets at an economy rate of 5.75. With Hardik Pandya not in the side and India in dire need of a sixth-bowling option, the scenario is perfectly set-up for Iyer to seal his spot.
R Ashwin: The last time India had Ashwin in their ODI line-up was in the West Indies series in 2017, shortly before the Kohli-Shastri combination opted for leg-spin ahead of the finger-spinning duo. Over the course of 2021, Ashwin has marked an impressive return to T20I cricket, having played in the 2021 T20 World Cup, where he picked up six wickets in three games at an economy of 5.25. India might want to use his experience in the bowling line-up and his batting abilities as well.
Shardul Thakur: He can bowl, he can bat and India have no other better option for as a No.8 than Thakur.
Deepak Chahar: Bhuvneshwar Kumar was tested at the expense of Deepak Chahar in the last limited-overs series that India played and the veteran pacer failed to impress. With Chahar having displayed batting abilities as well last year, the team management might want to go with him in the opener.
Yuzvendra Chahal: Since being snubbed for the 2021 T20 World Cup, Chahal played only one limited-overs game, in the T20I match against New Zealand, where he picked a wicket for 26 runs in four overs. Earlier, he played only two ODIs in 2021, picking five wickets in two games at 20.40.
Jasprit Bumrah: Do we need an explanation? Moreover, this will be the first time he will feature in a limited-overs game as a vice-captain. He had earlier served as deputy to KL Rahul in the Johannesburg Test earlier this month.