Bavuma expects de Kock to return with 'point to prove'

South Africa captain hints team might go with an extra allrounder in the XI for the first ODI

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
South Africa have welcomed Quinton de Kock back into the national squad with open arms and expect the wicketkeeper-batter to enter the India ODIs with a "point to prove," according to captain Temba Bavuma. In December, de Kock had announced his retirement from Test cricket after the Boxing Day Test and has been on paternity leave over the last three weeks following the birth of his daughter, but remains available for the shorter formats. On Wednesday, he will take his spot at the top of the order against India.
"It's good to see Quinny again. We obviously miss him in the Test team, but he has made his decision and that's a decision we respect. Having Quinny again with the team has been good; and knowing Quinny, he will have a point to prove," Bavuma said. "I don't want to put words in his mouth but he will have a point to prove, and I am sure he is as excited as we are to see him in the team."
Bavuma all but confirmed that de Kock and Janneman Malan will open the batting, with him slotting in at No.3 and feeling in good form.
"The Test series went quite well for the team but for me personally, my feet seemed to move well and I was hitting the ball quite well. I'd like to carry on with that feeling," Bavuma said. "People have asked me if there's anything I've changed or done differently and to be honest no, I've been doing things the same. Maybe it's just a period of good form."
The strength of the top three leaves South Africa with a conundrum of how to manage Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller, as Bavuma explained that there may only be room for two of them.
"Quinton and Janneman have done fairly well so I don't see that changing. I come back into the picture at No.3," he said. "Then, it's probably more the middle order, whether we want to go with an extra batter or an allrounder at 6. That's the real conversation that needs to happen."
If it were up to Bavuma, the allrounder might be preferred to a specialist batter to ensure sufficient bowling stocks in the XI.
"As a captain, you always like to have as many resources as you can from a bowling front. You accept that one bowler isn't going to hit his straps on the day, so to be able to have an adequate replacement for him is a luxury," he said. "It's something we still need to settle on but I would like to have as many options as I can."
One of them could well be Marco Jansen, who could make his fifty-over debut this week after being picked in Anrich Nortje's injury-enforced absence. "The world has seen what cricketing abilities he has and his x-factor ability. It was a no-brainer to get him into white ball squad," Bavuma said."He is a guy who will come strongly into contention when we speak about the team."
Jansen's ability to extract bounce from the slow Paarl wicket could see him edge ahead of some of the competition.
"Considering Paarl and the conditions there - it's a lot different to our Highveld wickets - it's on the lower side; a bit skiddier. We'll consider pace bowlers who can exploit that, like Lungi (Ngidi), (Sisanda) Magala and Marco Jansen," Bavuma said. "And then Paarl is quite friendly to slower bowlers and spinners so (Tabraiz) Shamsi, (Keshav) Maharaj and (George) Linde all come into the picture."
Linde is a late inclusion to the ODI group and has been retained from the Test squad bubble in anticipation of the surfaces that will be used for this series.
Though there are no World Cup Super League points at stake in this series, South Africa are still determined to use the matches to build on their progress over the last six months.
"We're not expecting this one-day series to be easy. We know it's going to be tough, especially considering the Test series. We will prepare as well as we can to make sure we are ready for when the challenge comes our way."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent