In the build-up to the much-anticipated ODI series between India and South Africa at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, cricket enthusiasts are gearing up for a spectacle following the recent 1-1 draw in the T20I series between the two cricketing powerhouses.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has introduced a new-look squad for the ODI series, opting for a blend of experienced players and promising youngsters. Notably, except for KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Kuldeep Yadav, none of the World Cup-bound players have been included in the squad. The decision to give the young talents a chance in the least relevant format aligns with the long tour ahead.
Sanju Samson’s Unlikely Participation
Despite the series being an opportunity for many players, Sanju Samson’s participation in the first ODI is considered unlikely. KL Rahul, the captain for the series, addressed the press conference and confirmed his role as the wicket-keeper for India. Rahul stated, “Sanju will bat in the middle order, that’s the role he has always played in ODI cricket. He will bat at either 5 or 6. For now, I am going to keep the wickets in the series, but if there’s an opportunity for Sanju to keep, he will do so at some point.”
As India shapes up its playing XI for the series opener, Ruturaj Gaikwad is likely to open with Washington Sundar, followed by Tilak Varma at No. 3. Shreyas Iyer is expected to take the No. 4 spot, with KL Rahul likely to bat at No. 5. The impressive Rinku Singh, who showcased consistent performances in the T20I series, is poised to make his ODI debut at No. 6. Axar Patel is set to assume the all-rounder role, emulating Ravindra Jadeja’s position, while Kuldeep Yadav is favoured over Yuzvendra Chahal. Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar, and Arshdeep Singh are the three pacers likely to lead the bowling attack.
Building for the Future
The ODI series holds particular significance as it marks a strategic move by India to transition towards a fresh lineup, especially with seasoned players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma approaching the twilight of their white-ball careers. The clash against South Africa becomes a crucial step in India’s preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy 2025.
As cricket fans eagerly await the action at Wanderers Stadium, the evolving dynamics of India’s squad and the infusion of young talent add an extra layer of excitement to the upcoming ODI encounters.