South Africa won the toss and have decided to bat first in the opening match of a three-match series.

South Africa versus India ODI series is set to kick off from January 19 onwards. The series is part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League 2021-23. The first two ODIs will be played at Boland Park in Paarl. The third match will be played in Cape Town. 

The series is expected to be a cracking affair between two strong sides. India, under KL Rahul, will hope to get the team balance right. The return of R Ashwin in the ODI set-up will be crucial. However, all the focus will be on Virat Kohli, who was stripped of his ODI captaincy. 

SA have the desired firepower to hurt India on home soil. The SA side is experienced and have several quality names in the side. They have what it takes to hurt India and gain control. One aims to see a keen contest on offer between bat and ball between the two teams, and here we analyse the player battles ahead of the ODI series.

Virat Kohli versus Lungi Ngidi

Kohli will have the chance to focus on his batting with no responsibility of captaincy now. Kohli has scored 12,169 runs in ODIs at 59.07. He will aim to negotiate the SA pacers well after having often been caught trying to go for expansive drives outside the off-stump channel. Lungi Ngidi will target the 33-year-old. The SA speedster, who has 54 wickets, can be crucial with his variations.

Quinton de Kock vs Jasprit Bumrah

SA will rely on the experience of Quinton de Kock upfront. The southpaw is a dangerous customer and can score quick runs. He has amassed 5,255 runs in ODI cricket at a sound average of over 45. Against India, he has 784 runs in ODIs. De Kock’s battle against premier Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah will be key. Bumrah is a champion performer in ODIs and comes from a decent Test series. His accuracy will challenge De Kock. Bumrah, who has 108 ODI wickets, has dismissed De Kock just once. However, he hasn’t allowed De Kock to score freely, conceding just 25 runs from 60 deliveries.

Aiden Markram vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar

SA batter Aiden Markram can get to the 1,000-run mark in ODIs, having scored 843 runs. He will be a pivotal figure in SA’s top order. Markram can be the anchorman for SA, accelerating when required and playing some fine shots. His impact against Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be key. Bhuvi, who will aim to purchase some swing, can tease Markram to play on the up. However, the experienced Bhuvi has struggled against Markram in ODIs, giving away 55 runs from 48 deliveries bowled. He is also yet to dismiss the SA batter. Markram has hit seven fours and two sixes of Bhuvi’s bowling.

KL Rahul vs Marco Jansen

Indian skipper KL Rahul was traumatised by Proteas left-arm pacer Marco Jansen in the recently concluded Test series. Jansen managed to dismiss Rahul on three occasions in the series. Rahul averaged just 1.30 against Jansen. This highlights why a stern battle could be on offer in the ODI series as well. Jansen can feature especially for Rahul, trying to work the ball in and around the off-stump area and keep Rahul guessing with his variations. Rahul is yet to face Jansen in ODIs, and it will be a tempting affair to see him going after Jansen.

Rassie van der Dussen vs Yuzvendra Chahal

Rassie van der Dussen has the desired experience for SA and can be the ideal customer in the series with the bat. The middle-order batter played crucial knocks to help SA win the Test series against India and can once again make useful contributions. Rassie has amassed 1,049 runs in ODI cricket at 65.56. It will be interesting to see how he performs against India’s spinners. Yuzvendra Chahal can be useful against Rassie. The wrist-spinner has dismissed Rassie once in ODIs, having bowled six deliveries to the latter and conceding just one run. Chahal did well in the last ODI series versus SA and has picked up 97 ODI scalps in ODI cricket.

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