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India v South Africa: India's likely XI for the ODIs against South Africa 

India’s likely XI for the ODIs against South Africa 

India will back in blue attire since July when South Africa will play them a five-match ODI series  at home. India after the semifinal finish at the World Cup 2015, lost the series 2-1 to Bangladesh and won the two-match ODI series in Zimbabwe with second string team. But, series defeat to Bangladesh A humiliation at the hand of neighbour needless to say.

Now, India will play 5 match historic ODI series at home against South Africa. India has a lot to prove in this series. India defeated South Africa in the World Cup for the first time during a group match Down Under.  India was battered by Bangladesh pacers in the first ODI series after the World Cup, so Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel will leave few of space for Indian  batsmen.  

Home series will be the familiar condition for India, but South African players  are also used to with Indian pitches as players like AB de Villiers, David Miller has experience of playing in India for their IPL franchises. India just back home from Sri Lanka, winning the away Test series for the first time in 4 years. At this moment, the question is how will be the playing eleven for ODI series against South Africa.

India’s opening pair have done comparatively well in Bangladesh series. Rohit Sharma and Sikhar Dhawan gave India  a solid start, but Bangladesh bowlers did not give chance to settle down. Rohit on the spinning Sri Lankan pitch helped India with his timely knock. So, it is expected that he should forget the Bangladesh history and focus on his trendy big innings batting style. Although Shikhar Dhawan has finished  the Bangladesh series being the top run scorer of the series. But, he should stop throwing down his wicket after being settled  down.

Indian middle-order batsmen were the reason for India’s defeat to Bangladesh. In the three-match series in Dhaka no. 3 Virat Kohli’s total score was not even fifty. There was another mistake captain MS Dhoni made as he was sticking  him with no. 5 till the third  ODI, when he elevated himself at no. 4. He contributed 69 runs to India 77 run win over Bangladesh in the third and final ODI in Dhaka.

 In the South Africa  series, whoever the captain is MS Dhoni should bat at no. 4 to give solidity to the middle order. Ajinkya Rahane, who led India in Zimbabwe, might be replaced by Ambati Rayudu. Rayudu has scored a match defining 124 against  Zimbabwe but was ruled out for injury.

Rahane has an astonishing Test average of 43.63, but his ODI average is dismal 31 while Ambati Rayudu so far played 31 ODIs for India with an average of 45.33.

 In the World Cup semifinal, Rahane batted at no. 4 and failed to rotate the strike MS Dhoni coming at no. 6 tried save the shrinking ship, but later succumbed to the mountainous pressure.  The no. 6 position will go to Suresh Raina as he is capable to hit big boundaries in the slog over. The only man who is expected to come back the team is Mohammed Shami. He after a remarkable World Cup Down Under did not play a single match as he has been diagnosed with a knee injury. His return to the team will strengthen the bowling attack.

Bowling spearhead Mohammed Shami will be accompanied by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and two spinners R Ashwin and Axar Patel.

Ishant Sharma, who has outstanding Sri Lanka tour but unlikely to make playing XI, will be second choice for India as Bhuvneshwar Kumar is doing well in short format. At the same time Stuart Binny even after an all-round performance in Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka is unlikely  to make the playing XI as Axar Patel’s off-spin will be a better weapon than Binny’s seam at slow Indian pitch to bamboozled South Africa, who are traditionally weak  on playing spin. 

Team: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav


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