Centurion: South Africa suffered a huge blow after skipper Faf du Plessis was ruled out of the remainder of the ongoing One-Day International (ODI) series against India with a fractured finger, even as the tourists aim to exert pressure on the depleted hosts in the second match here on Sunday.
Already down with the absence of veteran AB de Villiers for the first three ODIs, the Proteas will now miss the services of the skipper, who struck a brilliant ton in the opener of the six-match series, albeit in a losing cause.
Du Plessis damaged his right index digit during the six-wicket loss in the series opener in Durban on Thursday and is likely to require three to six weeks’ time to recover, according to a Cricket South Africa (CSA) statement.
Batsman Farhaan Behardien has been added to the squad as a replacement, while Heinrich Klaasen was called in as a back-up wicketkeeper given de Villiers is also sidelined by a finger issue.
Going into the second match, India will be eager to take advantage of the loss of Du Plessis and go 2-0 up in the rubber, with all their departments ticking the right notes in Durban.
Led by skipper Virat Kohli’s brilliant 33rd ODI ton and steady batting by No.4 Ajinkya Rahane, India romped home in style after the wrist spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shared five wickets between them to restrict the hosts to 269/8.
India’s top-order has done reasonably well in the opening ODI barring the odd mix-up between Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli, which led to an unfortunate run-out of the southpaw.
The bowling department has delivered well except for pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, having an off day but the spin duo of chinaman Kuldeep (3/34) and Chahal (2/45) have been impressive in what was their maiden outing on South African soil.
The Proteas, on the other hand are yet to name the skipper of the side with Hashim Amla and Jean Paul Duminy emerging as the top contenders.
The home side will need to chalk out a strategy to stop the strong Indian batting after using as many as seven bowlers in the opening game.
All-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo added up to his handy 33-ball unbeaten 27, by picking the crucial wickets of Kohli and Rahane with his slower bouncers, but the damage was already done by then.
The hosts will also bank on the opening duo of Amla and stumper Quinton de Kock to set the tone early on for the likes of Aiden Markram, Duminy, David Miller and Chris Morris to put up a commanding total.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Jean Paul Duminy, Farhaan Behardien, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo.
Hindustan Surkhiyan News Desk: