Reuters Paarl, South Africa
India captain KL Rahul says South Africa will face a trial by spin in the first two One-Day Internationals of the three-match series starting today that will be played on the slower, lower pitch at Boland Park.
India had to contend with pace and bounce in their 2-1 Test series loss to South Africa, but will find conditions more like home in Paarl.
South Africa have had well documented troubles against spin in the past and Rahul believes the returning Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal will be a handful for the hosts in the first two games, with the third to be staged at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday.
“We have practised for a couple of days at Boland Park and the pitch does look like it might offer a lot more for the spinners than what we saw in the test series,” Rahul told reporters.
“We have quality spinners. Ashwin is coming back into the one-day team and we all know what quality he brings. And Chahal has been a great performer for us for a number of years.
“If there is any help from the pitch, I know these two can exploit it. So they become really important for us.”
India have not selected a full-strength squad for an ODI series since their 2-1 home win over England in March.
“We have sat down as a team and had an honest talk about what are the things we can improve and what can we get better at. Everyone is committed to it. We have the World Cup in mind and we have a process we have all decided to follow,” Rahul said.
“All these games become really important for us to go out there and try and grow as a team, and do all the things that we spoke about.”
Meanwhile South Africa captain Temba Bavuma said they are mulling over whether to select a specialist batsman or all-rounder at number six for the opening ODI today.
South Africa’s form in the 50-over format has been patchy, but as they build towards the 2023 World Cup in India they are looking to nail down their combinations.
They have used Andile Phehlukwayo or Wiaan Mulder at six in the batting line-up recently, including the 2-1 series loss in Sri Lanka in September.
“As a captain you want as many resources as you can,” Bavuma said yesterday. “You have to accept that probably one bowler on the day won’t hits his straps. I would like to have as many options as I can, taking into account the balance of the team.”
That may be even more important after Cricket South Africa announced yesterday that leading fast bowler Kagiso Rabada would be rested for the series to keep him fresh for two Tests in New Zealand next month. No replacement has been named.
Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock has returned to bolster the squad after his retirement from test cricket at the age of 29 last month to focus on his white-ball game.
“It is good to see Quinny again, we obviously missed him in the Test team,” Bavuma said. But he has made his decision and we respect that. Knowing Quinny, he will have a point to prove.”
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