South Africa v India, 1st ODI, Johannesburg December 4, 2013

India brace for hostile opener


Match facts

Thursday December 5, 2013
Start time 1330 local (1130GMT)

Big Picture

Since March 2011, South Africa and India have played only two ODIs against each other. The first was at the World Cup that India went on to win. South Africa beat the hosts by three wickets in Nagpur, in a match that seemed to indicate they were capable of breaking their major tournament jinx. They staged the perfect chase, going after a target of 297 with ruthlessness.

They next met two years and three months later, again at an ICC event that India eventually triumphed in. Again, India batted first and again they piled it on, scoring 331 in Cardiff. Although South Africa came close - they were all out for 305 - they were never really in the game.

Both tournaments were Gary Kirsten's last as coach of the respective sides and both teams went through tough withdrawals immediately after he left. India have come out on the other side, following the retirements of senior personnel. South Africa are still in the process of doing the same. Their limited-overs squads took a backseat to the Test team in the Kirsten era, and rightly so; they have since had to start over and they are definitely not there yet.

That's the background to how these rivals meet now, without taking into account the tension that has preceded this series. Although the players themselves have had nothing to do with the boardroom squabbles, they and the fans are the ones who will suffer. What should have been seven ODIs is now just three and although the former may have been overkill, the latter could leave us wishing for more.

Since this all we are getting, the best we can hope for is that the series has as much of Nagpur and Cardiff as it can have. The totals may not be as high but if the quality of the competition is as good, it will be a fitting way to end this year for the 50-over game.

Form guide

(last five completed games, most recent first)

South Africa WLLWW India WLWWW

In the spotlight

India's first tour to South Africa was called the Friendship tour but this one has already gone some way to becoming the unfriendly one. With emotions running high over the shortened tour and a Wanderers crowd known for being boisterous, India can expect a hostile reception at the Bullring. The day before the match, there were only 6500 tickets remaining out of a total of over 30,000 and even with thundershowers forecast, the Johannesburg faithful are unlikely to stay away.

Three of the top five ODI run-scorers this year are Indian batsmen and their line-up has the record for the two highest innings scores this year - both in excess of 360. The ability to post towering totals is undoubtedly their strength but they might find it a little harder to do that against a South African attack that has been miserly and has promised a short-ball barrage on a green top in the hope of exposing the stereotypical subcontinental shortcoming.

Team news

South Africa are likely to go with the six-batsman strategy that will allow them to play two allrounders in Jacques Kallis and Ryan McLaren. Kallis, Dale Steyn and Graeme Smith should all return to the XI after missing the third ODI against Pakistan, with niggles keeping the first two out and Smith allowed compassionate leave following the death of his grandmother. This being the first match of the series, South Africa will likely field their strongest bowling suit, which could mean no place for Vernon Philander, who is a 50-50 call after falling on his shoulder, or Wayne Parnell.

South Africa: (likely)1 Hashim Amla, 2 Graeme Smith, 3 Quinton de Kock (wk) 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers (capt), 6 JP Duminy, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Dale Steyn, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Imran Tahir

India's first choice XI are all fit and raring to go. They will not want to tinker too much with a combination that has won them matches recently and will likely go in with three seamers, two spinners and their familiar, formidable top six.

India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuveshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammad Shami, 11 Mohit Sharma

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa have lost two of their last three ODI series at home. Both were three-match contests, the first against New Zealand last year and the second the recently-completed rubber against Pakistan. They won a five-match series against Pakistan in between.

  • India have won 22 of the 31 ODIs they have played this year and have the highest win percentage of all teams who have participated in more than five matches - 73.33.


"We are under pressure here in our own country. We just lost a series so confidence is not hugely high but I still think we can beat the No.1 team."
South Africa captain AB de Villiers

"The guys are quite familiar with the conditions out here. But South Africa is one place where a lot depends on how the wicket is prepared, whether it's overcast or not and the circumstances on the day."
India captain MS Dhoni

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • san on December 5, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    Good point... I think we will need Pujara for the away conditions......Ofcorse he still has not proved much outside of India, but looks technically better than others....

    definitely do not need both Yuvraj and Raina in the same Same goes with Ashwin & Jadeja

    That will open up two slots for the specialists...

    ODI in India... I am not bothered.

  • Android on December 5, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    Sir India lost in d cwc 2 d Proteas.

  • a on December 5, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    South Africa will feel Philander's absence. If Indian batsmen can get after Tahir and Tsotsobe and McLaren while playing Steyn watchfully, they can win this. But if even one bowler other than Steyn clicks, Indian will get hammered.

  • Dummy4 on December 5, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    SA struggle against spin as exploited by Pakistan. India making the same tired old mistake of focusing on their non-existent "pace" bowlers to deliver. I guarantee the spinners will be most effective as per usual. Jadeja always gets a break through. Ashwin is over rated and leaks too many runs.

  • Dummy4 on December 5, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Waiting very eagerly 4 da strt of da game...let's see how India's new balanced team play in outside of Indian soil....hopefully SA will win 2day...coz I don't think india's batting line up is blistering in against a bowling line up consisting of Steyn,Morkel,Tsotsobe,Kallis,Mclaren & Tahir....India always very good at home but too worse in foreign conditions.....their bowling can't stop AB 2day....He will dominate India's bowling 2day......

  • Dummy4 on December 5, 2013, 10:55 GMT yeah lets hope that we see a quality cricket in this series... May the best team wins :)

  • AKASH DEEP on December 5, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    no comment in this series......

  • Dummy4 on December 5, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    @ Aryan Sarkar hmm i guess pakistan has just lost one test series in lanka but im not sure can you pull up the stats if possible

  • mahesh on December 5, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    what worries me is that indian team is full of bastmen, who can score quickly but not too many ancors like Dravid/Pujara/Gambhir/Rahene. An Ideal indian team in SA conditions would include Pujara and Rahane or Gmabhir (all are better players at least among indians) of new and moving ball since they bat either as operers or one down) in place of Yuvi and Raina who are technicallysusceptible against good pace bowling. Indian selectors had good excuse not to select yuvi and raina after their disastour series against aussie where everybody score heaps of runs and they couldnt score just becoz they coudnt handle good fast bowling. India needs to realise that in SA, one does not need to score or chase 300-350 runs rather 240-270 runs and for that we need technically better and not the hitters like yuvi and Raina and by that way with kohli, dhawan, dhoni who needs any more dashers?

  • Nirjhar on December 5, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    Does deVilliers have a small paunch (the pink T Shirt photograph) or am I only seeing things?

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