India are all set to face South Africa in a three-match ODI series right after the Test series gets over and the squad was recently announced. It did raise a few eyebrows after pacer Jasprit Bumrah was named as the vice-captain for the first time ahead of the expected names like Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer.
KL Rahul was named the leader of the 18-member India squad in the absence of injured Rohit Sharma. With the tough competition going on for spots in the country, it is not going to be any easy for the fringe players. The upcoming ODI series against South Africa could be vital in retaining the places in the squad for a few of the big names.
The last two years haven’t been great for Virat Kohli and he will be looking to end his century drought too. The roadmap to success in the 2023 World Cup is expected to start with this series against South Africa and India will look to come out all guns blazing.
In the article, let’s take a look at 3 Team India players for whom the ODI series could be crucial
1. Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan has become a completely different player in the limited-overs format in the last three years and he has been scoring loads of runs in the IPL as well. He has added a lot of shots to his game and looks more aggressive throughout the innings. After some poor outings, he lost his place in the Indian T20I side but did manage to hold on to his place in the 50-overs setup still.
Dhawan, 36, now will know that he doesn’t have many years left in international cricket and every missed chance from here on will have a big impact on his career. He has stiff competition from Ruturaj Gaikwad who has been in the form of his life and Dhawan needs a big series here desperately. With just one year to go for the World Cup, Dhawan has to make it count every time he gets into the field.
There are things that still work in Dhawan’s favour with the left-handed option he brings into the top order and he has immense experience in international cricket. He has always enjoyed his game but this could be a different ball game with his spot in the Indian team on the line.
2. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the preferred new ball bowler in the first few games of the T20 World Cup 2021, but his continuous failures to swing the ball up front did not help his cause. His death bowling has not been up to the mark and his pace has dropped significantly. However, the team backed him for the T20I series against New Zealand and he did show signs of getting better.
Kumar has struggled with injuries of late and was not retained by his franchise ahead of the mega auction as well. The 31-year-old still has a lot of cricket left in him and he is a useful batting option down the order. Bhuvneshwar has a lot of competition from the likes of Deepak Chahar who can provide the same impact with the new ball.
The demand for pace bowlers in the modern era is huge and Bhuvneshwar’s old-fashioned swing bowling might not work in the longer run. He indeed is a clever bowler with variations up his sleeve, but he will know the importance of good performances to keep hold of his place. He does have the experience of the South African conditions and this will be a big series for him as well.
3. Ravi Ashwin
Ravi Ashwin did not feature in the limited-overs setup for the last four years and it did look like the end of the road for him in the shorter formats. The pair of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal had been picking heaps of wickets in the middle overs and they did keep Ashwin’s name out of the mix as well. The spinner had worked on his wicket-taking abilities and is far more potent now.
He had two good IPL seasons for the Delhi Capitals and had the ability to bowl at any stage of the game. His varieties impressed the selectors and he made a comeback into the Indian side for the T20 World cup. He had some good outings in the New Zealand home series and has now earned his place in the Indian ODI side in South Africa.
However, Washington Sundar has returned from injury and Ashwin’s place could be under the hammer. Sundar is one of the decent fielders in the world going around and fielding has been a big part of India’s success outside the subcontinent.
Sundar also provides a left-handed batting option and is seen as a long-term prospect in all formats. It is important that the 35-year-old Ashwin enjoys his time back on the Team India’s ODI side and he also has to make sure he grabs his chances.