The ODI Series is hours away, and India will be raring to go after missing out on an opportunity to win their first Test series in South Africa. They begin a new journey under a new captain, and there will be a few things for fans, the team, and selectors to watch out for.
The first ODI will be Virat Kohli’s first assignment as a player since 2016. While Virat Kohli’s Test numbers are dwindling, his one-day numbers are going well. He is regularly getting fifties, but hasn’t converted his starts. With less pressure on him, Virat Kohli could play with more freedom as he tries to discover his old form.
With Ruturaj Gaikwad in the background, and Rohit Sharma likely to return in the near future, the ODI series is an important one for Shikhar Dhawan. Recently he led a second-string side in Sri Lanka, but couldn’t make the World Cup squad. His numbers aren’t too bad, but with a lot of competition, it has been tough for him to stay in the spotlight despite his contributions over the years.
After missing out on the T20 World Cup, one-day Cricket is the only place where Dhawan can make an impact for India. His poor numbers in the Vijay Hazara trophy doesn’t help his case, as Ruturaj Gaikwad went through a dream run in the same tournament. With another World Cup months away, the upcoming series will be important for Dhawan as he looks to extend his international career.
KL Rahul will be leading the ODI side but his position in the batting line-up will be one for him to ponder. He opens in T20s and Tests, but has batted in the middle-order during the one-day games for India. With Rohit unavailable, Rahul could come up the order, but his position in the batting line-up will still be up for questioning when Rohit Sharma returns.
Venkatesh Iyer is going through a dream run. After a strong IPL he made his T20 debut, and looks like a potential replacement for Hardik Pandya, who is going through various fitness issues. Although Iyer opened in the IPL, he has been batting in the middle-order during the domestic tournaments, to show that he could come in as a finisher. Along with his batting, Iyer is a handy bowler and has bowled his full quota on a few occasions in the recent Vijay Hazare trophy.
Ashwin last played an ODI back in 2017 and is back in the squad. He played in the T20 World Cup, and is slowly coming back across formats. His role in the one-day side though will be a little different. With middle-over wickets important, Ashwin will have to provide breakthroughs especially when Yuzvendra Chahal is around for competition.
India is likely to go with four bowlers and two all-rounders in Shardul Thakur and Venkatesh Iyer. Going with such a combination will allow them to bat deeper. They have Ashwin for spin, and he is a handy batter as well, increasing their depth even more. Along with their bowling composition, India will probably keep an eye on Bumrah’s workload which could disrupt the composition of the side.