India Predicted XI vs South Africa 3rd ODI: KL Rahul likely to make multiple changes in dead rubber
- India Predicted XI vs South Africa 3rd ODI: With the series already lost, India might want to test their bench strength in the dead rubber in Cape Town.
As they stare at an embarrassing clean sweep on South African soil, India will look to make amends in both departments and alter the starting eleven with multiple changes in the third and final ODI at Cape Town. Under KL Rahul, the Indian bowling unit has looked out of sync, not picking up wickets at crucial junctures and failing to keep the momentum in the middle overs. In the first two games, the bowlers managed to pick just seven wickets with experienced picks like Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar looking toothless against the opposition.
Ashwin has so far failed to make an impact, which could possibly allow the management to test someone like Jayant Yadav in the final contest. The 32-year-old Yadav's only 50-over for India was in back in 2016 against New Zealand at home. The head coach also has pace bowling riches at his disposal.
Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini and Deepak Chahar have been waiting in the wings for their first game of the series and the Cape Town contest might open doors for the pace triumvirate. Prasidh Krishna is also a handy but relatively inexperienced option. It remains to be seen whether a change in strategy of the team management will lead to major bowling changes in the playing eleven.
While a dull bowling camp needs some tweaks, India's middle-order also needs a shake-up. Skipper KL Rahul's stint in South Africa might be called anti-climatic, given the fact that he had started the Test series with a hundred. His long-term future as a leader is at stake and there is a possibility of him returning to the middle-order. Virat Kohli may have scored 51 in the first game but what is visible is his lack of energy on the field after his exit from ODI leadership.
The two Iyers -- Shreyas and Venkatesh -- have also been unable to chip in with vital contributions so far, adding to India's middle-order woes which has been the team's Achilles heel since the 2019 ODI World Cup.
With the series already lost, India might want to test their bench strength in the dead rubber.
Here is a look at the predicted playing XI for India:
Venkatesh Iyer: With India facing middle-order issues, why can't Rahul go back to his original position of batting at No.5 and rather send Iyer up the order to open for India. He is a certainty with the line-up featuring six bowling options. So why shouldn't India go with Iyer who gained all the fame and broke into the Indian team following his impressive outing in the UAE in IPL 2021 where he opened for KKR.
Shikhar Dhawan: He has been India's top-scorer in the series with 108 runs in two matches which includes a half-century score as well. Amid all the talk about his form and whether the management should look for a younger option, Dhawan has managed to silence the critics.
Virat Kohli: With the captaincy burden off his shoulders, eyes were on Kohli on how he respond only as a batter. But the former skipper has had two contrasting innings so far. He made an impressive half-century in the first ODI, but scored a five-ball duck in the second. Can he end the tour on a high?
Rishabh Pant: Batting at No.4 for India, Pant scored a brilliant 85 off 71 in the second ODI. It was not juts his career-best score, it was the highest score by an Indian wicketkeeper-batter in an ODI game in South Africa. India will definitely need his aggressive batting in the middle in the final ODI.
KL Rahul: Between January 2021 and the start of the series, India's middle order has averaged 44 in ODIs, which is only behind New Zealand. The key batter behind that number has been Rahul, who scored 453 runs in 10 innings at 56.7 and a strike rate of 114 with four fifties and one century during that period. With India having trouble in the middle order, Rahul might want to return to his original spot for the final game.
Shreyas Iyer: He didn't quite make the impact that the management wanted him to make, scoring 11 and 17 in the first two matches. However, Iyer would likely be retained for one last chance in the series.
Shardul Thakur: After scoring a 50 in the opener, he scored a superb 38-ball 40, filled with classy strokes, that helped India bounce back after Pant's dismissal. But hasn't been impactful with the ball, conceding 72 and 35 runs in the two matches for a wicket each.
Jayant Yadav: With Ashwin failing to make an impact in the two games, the management might want to give Jayant a go. It would hence be his second ODI appearance, the last being against New Zealand at home in 2016.
Mohammed Siraj: India would definitely want to rest Bumrah to manage his workload and go with Siraj instead. He has so far made only one ODI appearance, in Australia in 2019 where he had conceded 76 runs in 10 overs for no wickets.
Yuzvendra Chahal: Chahal went wicketless in the first match, conceding 53 runs, and picked one wicket for 47 runs in the second match. Chahal will want to finish the ODI series on a high.
Navdeep Saini: Following Bhuvneshwar Kumar's poor outing in the first two games, India will want to look ahead and give Saini a try. He featured in eight ODI matches so far, picking six wickets at an economy rate of 6.87.