The opening ODI of six between South Africa and India takes place on Thursday when the two sides get the series underway in Durban. Just like in the Test matches which preceded it, this series is between the two highest ranked sides in this format of the game so we should get a thrilling contest to open up with.
Both sides will want to get off to a winning start to take control of the series in its formative stages but they can both play with some freedom here as losing is not the end of the world which should make the game more entertaining.
I guess this might be a bigger series for South Africa than India given that they are at home in it but if it is it might not be by much. I say that because the South African hierarchy, not least coach and captain, are already talking about trying out things ahead of the World Cup even though it is 15 months away.
That might not happen right away and I still personally don’t think they will do anything that would be to the detriment of the confidence of the side but time will tell on that. The one thing we do know is that South Africa are strong at the top of the batting order and with the new ball. Things get cloudy when you dig deeper though.
It is not very often that India are heavy outsiders both in an ODI series or in an ODI so this is slightly new territory for them. It might only make them even more dangerous though. They have an incredible record in bilateral ODI series and I’m sure they will fancy their chances of extending that here.
The test for them will come with the bat. We didn’t see the best of them with the bat in the Test series but Sharma and Dhawan look a more potent combination and they have plenty of depth to be able to cope. Funnily enough it is usually their bowling that is a concern, especially in these conditions but I’m not sure there will be a problem here.
South Africa will be without AB de Villiers for this match and the two which follow it. Faf du Plessis has already confirmed that Aiden Markram will be given the nod in his place. The only decision to make is who forms their seam attack.
India will need to decide on whether or not to play two spinners but you would think that is unlikely especially with Kedar Jadhav being able to turn his arm over if needed. In which case Mohammad Shami could play.
There have been 44 previous matches played at this famous Durban ground. South Africa have a pretty decent record here having won 20 of their 35 matches with just 10 defeats, four no results and a tie. India have only won two of nine matches at this venue with six defeats and a no result.
This has been a high scoring ground in recent times especially in the first innings. The last two ODIs have had over 300 runs in the first dig while there have been plenty of scores over 275. We usually get a decent batting wicket here and the ground is not the biggest which helps run scoring. Sadly rain is forecast which could put a spanner in the works.
I’m not going to go too mad first up in this series both because it is the opening match and also because rain is expected early in the game but it is meant to clear up so we should see some sort of a game in which case I’ll go with two bets.
The opening bet is a go on India to make the highest 15 over score. India should be much more fluent with the bat in this format than in the Tests and it is rare that Sharma and Dhawan don’t get off to quick starts. On the flip side of that Kumar can be tough to get away and Quinton de Kock looks bang out of form at the minute. South Africa pack a lot of firepower away down the order which needs a platform to be laid. India will swing from the hip up top and can lead through 15 overs.
One of those who want the platform set for them is David Miller and when it is set we certainly see the best of him on this ground. He has battered centuries in the last two ODIs here and he has a 70 in one prior to that as well so he loves this Durban ground. In a shortened game he might go up the order but India showed in the Tests they could get him in even if he is lower down. At 6/1 I’ll see if his love affair with this ground continues.
Back India Highest 1st 15 Overs for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfred
Back them here:
Back D.Miller Top South Africa Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 7.00 with Ladbrokes