As the Indian team shed off their white flannels and put on the blues, they look like a completely different side. After stepping into more familiar territory, Virat and Co. played some dominating cricket in the opening ODI. India did not even break a sweat while chasing the 270-run target set by South Africa, which brought an end to the 17-match winning streak of the Proteas at home.
Discounting a standout South African effort (either batting or bowling) and an Indian batting collapse, it will be quite safe to predict the final scoreline of a 4-2 in the favour of India.
Here are five reasons why the Indian team will win the 6-match ODI series 4-2.
Either Kohli or Dhoni is good enough to give any world-class bowling line-up a run for their money when it comes to chasing the most difficult of totals. India are blessed to have both of them playing in their XI.
The latest example of Kohli’s brilliance while chasing scores saw him make a mockery of the 270-run target. India won the match by six wickets with 27 balls to spare. Although Kohli is known for his consistency, if he fails in one or two matches, we have Mahi to steady the ship.
The South African batsmen struggled against Chahal and Kuldeep in the first ODI. There is a feeling that the spin twins will continue to prove an enigma for the batsmen throughout the limited overs series.
Not only have both the Indian spinners bowled economically, they have also picked up crucial wickets as well. In Durban, the duo shared five wickets between them while giving away just 79 runs. They help India control the flow of the match in the middle overs, while also choking the run flow.
Imran Tahir is a potent weapon who has proven his worth time and again for South Africa. However, for some reason, his magic has not worked against the Indian batsmen. Traditionally known to play spin well, the Indian batsmen have scored freely against the leg spinner and have not conceded too many wickets against him.
Imran Tahir’s record vs India and against all teams in ODIs.
As opposed to the overall bowling average (which is close to 25), the leggie’s average goes up by almost 20 units against India. Same is the case with the economy rate. The Pakistan-born spinner has an economy rate of 5.47 against India as compared to his career economy rate of 4.65. We also saw in Kingsmead how Tahir went wicketless after bowling his full quota of 10 overs.
The new crop of Indian batsmen is a unique breed. They do not seem to be troubled too much by pace bowling. You bowl toward them at 150 kmph and they will hit back at you even quicker! But when the ball starts to swing and seam, even a 130 kmph delivery can give them nightmares- like Vernon Philander did in the Test series.
The innocuous pitches on offer in the ODI series will even out this difference between the two teams. Players like Dhawan and Rohit who struggled against the red ball will give the South African bowlers a tough time in this series.
Recently, the news surfaced that Faf du Plessis was ruled out of the rest of the ODI series and the T20 series due to his fractured finger. Apparently, Faf was injured in an unsuccessful attempt to catch Virat Kohli in the slips. The absence of the first ODI’s centurion has created a huge void in the South African batting line-up.
Earlier, AB De Villiers was also ruled out of the first three matches of the ODI series due to a similar finger injury. Faf and de Villiers are the backbone of the Proteas’ batting order. ‘Mr 360’ will be back in the fourth ODI – but by then, India will have the momentum on its side. The hosts have put their money on the young Aiden Markram (who is just two ODIs old) to captain the team for the rest of the series.