THE TIMES OF INDIA | Dec 17, 2023, 10:43:16 IST
IND vs SA Live Updates: With a clutch of new-gen stars lining up to make their presence felt, India’s journey into their ODI future will hit its first stop during the opening match against South Africa at the hulking Wanderers on Sunday.
Scepticism may be in the air about the relevance of an ODI series with a T20 World Cup in sight, but for India, and to a good extent for the Proteas as well, this face-off signifies the arrival of a fresh line, building up ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy 2025.
Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have built lofty castles in white ball formats over the last decade and a half, but now they are in the evening of their careers, and the younger Indian names will need to carry forward their legacy.
None then will be in more focus than KL Rahul, who will lead India in this three-match series.
The wicketkeeper-batter has stood-in as India skipper in the past, but a successful outcome here could potentially land the Bengaluru man the ODI captaincy for a longer duration.
While the likes of Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, if he has recovered from the illness that forced him to sit out of the T20Is, and Shreyas Iyer have showcased their prowess in the past, a few others will be eager to become part of the jostle for space in India’s white ball scheme of things.
Rinku Singh has impressed everyone with his impact outings in the T20Is so far this year, and the team management will now be eager to see him graduate to the 50-over version, and the left-hander could make his ODI debut on the morrow.
The international opportunity might also come in the way of Rajat Patidar, who has been churning out runs in domestic cricket for a few years now, and Bhardwaj Sai Sudarshan, who had a reasonable run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Tamil Nadu, for slots open the middle-order along with Tilak Varma.
The Indian think-tank will hope that these young names could tick a few boxes against a South African attack that has a depleted look to it in the absence of rested Kagiso Rabada and injured Anrich Nortje.
India too will not have the three pacers who shored up their bowling in the recent ODI World Cup — Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj.