Venue – BASABV Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow
Date: Thursday, October 6
By The Numbers
If you want to argue that this is a weirdly placed ODI series right in the middle of the build-up for India and South Africa towards the T20 World Cup in Australia later this month, then I am all ears. Sure, the white ball games share many similarities, but this should be a time for both the host nation and the Proteas to be fine-tuning their batting and bowling lineups for the 20-over format as opposed to having their World Cup preparations messed up with three 50 over ODIs after playing a trio of T20s against each other.
Such is the way of the cricket schedule, however, that its packed nature means these matches that are part of the 2020-2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League simply had nowhere else to go.
The dominant way that India won the first T20 against South Africa – by eight wickets with the Proteas getting to just 106 runs in 20 overs – that the second defeat in Guwahati didn’t feel so bad. Sure, the bowling performance was abject as India finished on 237/3, but the chase took South Africa to 221/3 as their overs ran out was spirited. This all came full circle as the Proteas saw a fine unbeaten knock of 100 from 48 balls from Rilee Rossouw power them to a 48-run win in the final match before this ODI series. It was a dead rubber, but South Africa showed signs of life that were a big deal ahead of this ODI series and the upcoming T20 World Cup.
This is not the India team that will participate in the T20 World Cup. The timing of this series means that the big names – players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – will already be on their way to Australia while a second-string India team takes on the Proteas. It will be an interesting team that India sends out, one with an eye to the future, as the likes of Mukesh Kumat and Rajat Patidar are selected in the squad for the first time. When you add in a bunch of T20 World Cup reserves like Ravi Bishnoi and Deepak Chahar, it is easy to see where the focus is (and should) be.
South Africa has a different assignment here to India. While the home side has been rolling in the ODI competition, the Proteas have struggled. They are currently 11th in the Super League – a competition that consists of just 13 teams – and they badly need a win here to boost their standing when you consider that places in the OCI World Cup to be held next year are at stake.
That is why Quinton de Kock, David Miller, and Reeza Hendricks find themselves batting here, while Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje will lead the bowling attack. It is a much more formidable – and far more experienced – side than the one India will put out, which gives South Africa an advantage even with the games being played on the subcontinent.
.South Africa went from severe outsiders to odds on favorites as soon as the India squad was announced. This matters more to the Proteas, and I fancy them at 8/10 with BetXchange to win here.