A spirited India will look to consolidate on South Africa's injury woes as both their star players - AB de Villiers and captain Faf du Plessis - are absent from the six-match One-Day International (ODI) series. The Indian team won their first-ever ODI against South Africa at Durban by six wickets and will look to keep the momentum going when they face the Proteas at Centurion on Sunday. The defeat at Durban ended the Du Plessis-led team's 17-match unbeaten run on home soil stretching back to February 2016, when they had lost to England at Port Elizabeth.
While India will look to continue their red-hot ODI form, South Africa will hope to bounce back in the second match and avoid going 2-0 down so early in the contest.
Batsman Farhaan Behardien has been recalled to the ODI squad, after he was left out initially in favour of Khayelihle Zondo as part of their preparation for the 2019 World Cup and Aiden Markram has been named as the stand-in captain.
While Zondo didn't play at Durban, it is anticipated that he will continue to sit out, as Behardien will walk into the playing eleven given the circumstances. The latter had last featured against Bangladesh in October 2017.
Wicket-keeper batsman Heinrich Klaasen, who finished the third highest run-getter in South Africa's domestic one-day tournament, has also been drafted as backup for Quinton de Kock.
The latter has been struggling for form, and scored a patchy 34 off 49 balls in the first game. It is tough to envisage that de Kock will be dropped just yet, but Klaasen's inclusion ought to send him a signal of the team management s intent.
De Villiers had led in the one-off four-day Test against Zimbabwe when du Plessis was last sidelined in December.
However, they might turn to former skipper Hashim Amla in this moment of need.
South Africa's bother doesn't end here. The hosts will momentarily lose their No.1 status in the ICC ODI rankings should India take a 2-0 lead at Supersport Park. As it is, the visitors need a 4-2 overall series victory to step up and affirmatively claim the top spot in the 50-overs format.
They will be carrying the winning momentum into this second ODI, after a stunning victory at the Wanderers Test and another easy win at Durban.
Unlike Kingsmead, India have a better record at this venue, having played 11 ODIs inclusive of four wins and five losses. Their most famous win here came against Pakistan in the 2003 ODI World Cup.
Against South Africa, they have played five ODIs at Centurion, winning two and losing as many. However, their last ODI win over the Proteas here was in 2001-02 during the triangular series (also involving Kenya).
Since then, they have lost an ODI each during the 2006-07 and 2010-11 tours, whilst their last ODI during the 2013-14 tour was washed off.
The Indian team management, of course, doesn t pay attention to such statistics. They are more concerned with their players current form instead. In that light, the visitors don t have any selection bothers at the moment.
No.4 was the only spot that saw some experimentation in recent times, but Ajinkya Rahane s fluent 79 runs off 86 balls in the first ODI has meant that he will occupy this spot in the short term atleast.
The Centurion pitch came under sharp criticism for its sub-continental type nature during the second Test here, which South Africa won by 135 runs. It is understood that the grounds men would have done a better job for this series (wherein Supersport Park will host two out of six ODIs), albeit a flat wicket is still expected in keeping with the shorter formats.
It remains to be seen though if there will be some assistance for spin like in Durban.
Irrespective of conditions though, Virat Kohli will be tempted to go in with the same playing eleven. It would mean another trial by wrist-spin for South Africa s depleted batting line-up, as Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will look to wreak havoc once again.
The second ODI will be a day-game (the only one in this series) on account of a Sunday as is the norm in this country.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS 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), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen.
Match starts at: 1.30 pm IST.
(With PTI Inputs)