Bruised SA look to bounce back and avoid series defeat in Gqeberha


Big picture: SA look to avoid another home series defeat

You can fight conditions only to a certain extent in cricket. Arshdeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan went into the first ODI of the series with just seven wickets between them but bowled South Africa out for 116 in conditions that had swing, seam and uneven bounce.

As action moves to Gqeberha, and to a day-night match, you’d hope for more even conditions that don’t change dramatically during the match. Gqeberha has not hosted an ODI in more than four years, but it has not been a high-scoring venue. It has gone 12 years and eight ODIs without a score of 300. As it is generally the slowest and lowest of the surfaces among mainstream South African venues, India will hope to close out the series there. For South Africa, the next two are must-win matches to avoid a fourth home series defeat in ODIs since April 2021, certainly not a proud record to have.

There is more to look forward to from the new talent that has emerged during the limited-overs leg of the tour. Nandre Burger has impressed with his sustained pace and movement, and Sai Sudharsan made an eye-catching fifty on debut.

Form guide

South Africa LLWLW

India WLWWW

In the spotlight: Sai Sudharsan and Reeza Hendricks

Reeza Hendricks has gone two matches without laying bat on ball in the first over. To be fair to him, Hendricks found himself in against the moving ball and some incisive seam bowling both in the final T20I and the first ODI in Johannesburg. After playing and missing so often, both his innings ended in loose shots. He will want to give a better account of himself.

In a brief chase, Sai Sudharsan displayed on debut why his senior colleagues have been going gaga over him. The bowlers will now come back with their homework done, and will hop to present him a more challenging match situation.

Team news

If the Gqeberha track stays true to nature, South Africa could be expected to play both the spinners, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi. Shreyas Iyer is leaving to join the Test team, and so Rajat Patidar is the favourite to take his place.

South Africa (probable): 1 Reeza Hendricks, 2 Tony de Zorzi, 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 Aiden Markram (capt.), 5 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Wiaan Mulder, 9 Nandre Burger, 10 Keshav Maharaj, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi

India (probable): 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 B Sai Sudharsan, 3 Rajat Patidar, 4 Tilak Varma, 5 KL Rahul (capt. & wk), 6 Sanju Samson, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Arshdeep Singh, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Mukesh Kumar

Pitch and conditions

The weather is set fair, and the pitch is usually not the quickest. Don’t expect record-breaking scores.

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa’s 116 in the last match was the first time they crossed 100 against India in the last three ODIs.
  • Arshdeep Singh is the only India fast bowler to have taken a five-for against South Africa.
  • India bowlers have claimed eight five-fors in 2023, the highest for any team in a calendar year.
  • Quotes

    “We went for dinner last night – me, Axar [Patel] and Avesh [Khan] – and we were talking about how brutal Proteas are when they wear pink jerseys and how they hit sixes when they are in this jersey. So we were just talking about keeping them under 400.” – Arshdeep Singh, having bowled South Africa out for 116.

    “When you are trying to build a brand and a style of play, you are potentially going to have those contrasting experiences. That’s where the learning happens. That’s the journey for us. When it’s good, we are really good. When conditions are good, we can score 400 but how do we still find our way to 280 on a tough wicket? That’s the question for us.” – JP Duminy

    Sidharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo



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