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Virat Kohli backs spinners to end Durban jinx in 1st ODI against South Africa

Indian cricket team has not won an ODI series in South Africa and Virat Kohli and Co. is keen to change that status in the upcoming series.

cricket Updated: Jan 31, 2018 22:13 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Durban
South Africa vs India,SA vs IND,Virat Kohli
Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli, who played five pacers in the final Test at Johannesburg vs South Africa cricket team, made it clear that spin will return to the armoury with Yuzvendra Chahal being one of his go to man.(Getty Images)

More than Australia, South Africa happens to be India’s final frontier.

While they haven’t won a Test series here, even an ODI series win has eluded the two-time world champions -- who have managed a tri-series win Down Under.

It is the balance of the Proteas side, a bowling attack that relies on consistency and pace, athletic fielding as well as a mix of pitches that has made things difficult not just for India but for every Asian side touring this part of the southern hemisphere.

Over the past 25 years, since South Africa’s readmission to international cricket, there has been only one Asian side that has won a one-day series here – Misbah ul-Haq’s Pakistan, in 2013, a month before South Africa blanked MS Dhoni’s team.

Interestingly, Misbah played three spinners in each game of that series and although they didn’t exactly run through the opposition, they delivered.

India skipper Virat Kohli, who played as many as five pacers in the final Test at Johannesburg, made it clear on Wednesday that spin will return to India’s armoury with the return of good surfaces in ODIs.

“We are the only team in the world blessed with two wrist spinners with Kedar Jadhav doing the conventional job. No team has two wrist spinners, especially two different types who are versatile in their own way. It is not like both our spinners are leg-spinners or both are Chinaman,” he said.

“Wrist spinners help you in any condition in the world, no matter where you play. They can go for six an over but can take three wickets as well which is the difference in the game.”

No doubt the pitches will be different from what they were in Tests.

Kohli said the Kingsmead pitch looked balanced. His counterpart Faf Du Plessi said he expected good surfaces.

When they last duelled in an ODI, in Champions Trophy last year, Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla gave South Africa a strong start and looked to take the game away. But once the spinners, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, came on, the team folded for less than 200.

India have made life easier for themselves having had de Kock on the mat in the Test series. The ODI opener, who scored three successive centuries in the 2013 series to help his team build huge totals, managed just 71 in six Test knocks, averaging just 11.83.

His form apart, the hosts have no AB de Villiers in the middle order, leaving it porous. It gives India a strong chance to script their first series win.

Vice-captain Rohit Sharma was asked if South Africa’s top order would hold the key. “Their top order is solid. But when we came here the last time, our guys were inexperienced. They have experience to bowl in these conditions. They did the job in Tests.”

The India bowlers will have to brace up for something more. Bowling pace on these surfaces won’t be as easy as it was on the made-to-order wickets in Tests.

For the record, despite this being an Indian-populated city and Kohli saying that it gives him a feeling different from anywhere else in the world, India have failed to win a single ODI against South Africa here. They have lost six out of seven, with one ending without a result.

First Published: Jan 31, 2018 20:59 IST