Key players missing but intensity remains
February 21, 2010
Start time 14:30 local (09.00 GMT)
The Big Picture
The Test series wasn't closely fought - both teams won by an innings- in the conventional sense but the matches were intense and dramatic contests. It has, thus, left everybody hoping that the ODIs will be as interesting. Some key players are missing from both India and South Africa but, as Australia proved on their last trip here, the absence of personnel can be overcome.
For India, who were beaten by a severely-depleted Australian team, this is a chance to raise their limited-overs game to a level they are capable of. Their last ODI outing was a tri-series in Bangladesh, where they lost in the final to Sri Lanka, who reopened some old wounds. The pitch had something for the seamers and the Indian batting line-up folded cheaply. South Africa might not get the pitches necessary to exploit India's vulnerability but it's bound to be an interesting battle.
This three-match series will offer a greater Test for South Africa. They will miss Graeme Smith and without him the top order, even with the inclusion of the in-form Hashim Amla, doesn't have the same strength. Much will depend on AB de Villiers, who had a quiet Test series, if they are to put up totals around 300.
The first game is huge for India ahead of the 2011 World Cup as Jaipur has faced some terror threats and the cricket world will be watching how the security issue is handled. It's been reported that there will be unprecedented levels of security: the Indian Air Force will be manning the skies and the police have divided the city into five centers - the airport, the route leading to the hotel and stadium, the team hotel, and one each inside and outside the stadium.
Form guide (last five completed games, most recent first)
South Africa LWLWW
Watch out for...
Yusuf Pathan: Will he finally prove what he is capable of in the international arena? Yusuf has done well in the IPL and a few Twenty20s but hasn't showcased his big-hitting prowess in ODIs. The flat pitches should suit him but South Africa are bound to test him with short, lifting deliveries which have troubled him in the past. He is in great form, though, having made a stunning double-hundred in the Duleep Trophy final and a 40-ball hundred - the third fastest in List A games - in a Vijay Hazare Trophy match.
AB de Villiers: He had an ordinary Test series but the ODIs might bring out his best. De Villiers is one of the best in the art of building an ODI innings and the Indian audience might get to see the best of him.
Both teams have been hit hard by injuries: South Africa will miss Smith while India don't have Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan. India's injuries present more opportunities to the likes of Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to cement their places in the side. Kohli had a superb outing in the tri-series in Bangladesh and the pressure is on Raina, whose stock slipped after a poor ICC World Twenty20.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Herschelle Gibbs, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Jacques Kallis (capt), 5 Loots Bosman, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Johan Botha, 11 Charl Langeveldt.
India (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Amit Mishra/R Ashwin, 10 Ashish Nehra, 11 Sreesanth.
Pitch and conditions
"We've prepared a batting wicket. It is a 270 wicket," curator Taposh Chatterjee said. In the last game played here, India nearly chased Pakistan's 306 and one can expect another run-fest. However, dew is expected to play a role and the teams batting second might have an advantage.
Stats and trivia
"You end up playing with a lot of Indian players during the IPL, so you see how they do things and how their mentality works. All of that does help and players all around the world are learning how to adapt better here now."
Jacques Kallis says Indian conditions are no longer a mystery
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo