South Africa are in a rebuilding phase with a new captain at the helm and fresh faces being given opportunities. The South African team management would be pleased with the results of late. They drew an ODI series against England, which was Quinton de Kock’s first stint as a captain in ODI series. In their last ODI series, they whitewashed a full-strength Australian side at home.
The ODI leg against the kangaroos should be a big boost for the Proteas. The biggest positive for South Africa, in recent times, was the way, other players stepped up. Against Australia, the skipper de Kock had an off series. However, the likes of Heinrich Klassen, Janneman Malan, JJ Smuts, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje stood tall for their team.
The last time South Africa played an ODI series in India was in October 2015, which they won by 3-2. However, they had AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir then. And, in the current segment, the visitors will miss the services of the mentioned players and will be competing against a comparatively stronger Indian side. Because of their current form, South Africa will be high on confidence while facing India in an away series.
In this article, we have mentioned three South African players to watch out for in the ODI series:
1. Temba Bavuma
Temba Bavuma was in the race (he still is) to cement his place in the limited-overs sides of South Africa. However, a hamstring injury forced him to miss three T20Is and a couple of ODIs against Australia. Janneman Malan was given the opportunity in the 50-over format and he grabbed his chances well, playing a match-winning knock in the second ODI against Australia. Malan who did not find himself in the squad for this series earlier was included in the squad later. And, now, Bavuma is facing a direct competition against Malan.
The right-handed batsman has tasted a lot of success in his short white-ball career so far. In ODIs, he averages about 56 with a strike rate of over 92 with a fifty and a century to his name. Bavuma averages close to 50 with a strike rate of over 136 in the shortest format at the international level. The Cape Town-born might get the nod ahead of Malan because of a few factors.
He returned with scores of 49 and 27 albeit with a substandard strike rate in the T20 series between India and South Africa which was in India last year. Bavuma is also a better player of spin as compared to Malan. South Africa have faced issues against spin bowling in recent years, and Bavuma is a good option to encounter that. The 29-year-old has pretty good gameplay for this format. He plays safe at the beginning of his inning, has different gears in his batting and can accelerate well when required.
2. Heinrich Klassen
Heinrich Klassen, the Man of the series in South Africa’s last ODI series – against Australia, is in fine form these days. In 2020, he has played five innings across formats and scored three half-centuries and one century. A good time in Momentum One Day Cup led to his comeback in the national side. Playing four innings in South Africa’s domestic one-day cup, the right-handed batsman accumulated 162 runs with an average of over 40 and a fantastic strike rate of over 125.
Klassen provides stability to the middle-order of South Africa which they lacked for some time. Klassen has made sure that he is undroppable at the moment. Faf du Plessis is back in South Africa’s squad. The South African team management has many options for the middle-order – Faf, Rassie van der Dussen, Klassen, JJ Smuts, David Miller and Kyle Verreynne. Thus, it would be interesting to see how the Proteas form their batting order.
Klassen is a flexible batsman who can bat at different positions from number three to five. He is a good player of spin as well as pace. The 28-year-old can rotate the strike well and has the capability to score runs at a quicker rate. Not many South African players are better of spin than Klassen in the current set up. Thus, the wicketkeeper-batsman will be the key for the visitors in the middle-overs against Indian spinners.
3. Keshav Maharaj
Imran Tahir has retired from the One-Day format, and, thus, Tabraiz Shamsi is South Africa’s lead spinner in this format. However, Shamsi will not take part in this series due to personal reasons. Thus, the spin department of the Proteas will be lead by Keshav Maharaj. Whilst Maharaj is South Africa’s frontline spinner in the longest format, the same can not be said for the limited-overs cricket.
Keshav who made his ODI debut in 2017 has just seven One Day Internationals under his belt. Maharaj produced top-notch performances in the Momentum One Day Cup. Playing for Dolphins, the left-arm orthodox spinner finished the tournament as the leading wicket-taker. Averaging less than 15 with the ball in seven matches, he snared 16 wickets with an economy of 3.69 and a strike rate of about 23.
Considering the fact that the next ODI World Cup is in India, giving Maharaj is not a bad move. However, the 30-year-old is not a wicket-taking option unless the batsmen attack him. In his last ODI series against Australia, Maharaj picked up just one wicket in three matches. Anyway, he can check the flow of runs and force the batsmen to commit mistakes from the other end. India are expected to have just one left-hander in their top-six, and, thus, Maharaj’s work will be easier. Also, he will get more assistance from the deck as compared to that in his nation.
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