Just like Test series, Indian cricket team had never won any One Day International series against South Africa on their soil. The visitors have played 27 ODIs in the rainbow nation, of which they could win only five.
However, the Indian skipper Virat Kohli does not care about all these stats. The 29-year-old cricketer had set his eyes on the upcoming World Cup next year that will take place in England. In the pre-match press conference, captain Kohli openly talked about number four batsman for the Indian team.
“(At No.4) other than him (Rahane) we have Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey. We don’t want to be one-dimensional. It depends whose technique is more suited to what spot especially in that particular country. All options are open. Although the lower middle order is more or less sorted, the middle order is something we are still looking at. The combination is working well for us with Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni rotating and batting together,” said Virat Kohli.
“No. 4 is something we have experimented with in the last couple of series. That is the only spot I can see that needs to be solidified, otherwise the team looks pretty balanced,” Kohli further added.
“It’s about who takes that one particular spot (number four). It’s not even spots above and below. Guys who are given the opportunity need to capitalise and really string in performances that convince the management and the team very soon that that guy is meant to play at that spot for the team. I feel the core of players is more or less pretty strong at the moment. Obviously changes can happen at any stage. You don’t know whether someone is going to be in form or not or what the team requires at certain stages,” Virat Kohli said.
The ‘run machine’ of Indian cricket team, Virat Kohli also talked about the World Cup that is supposed to take place in England in 2019. Virat also said that it is possible that those players who are doing well in home condition may not be successful on England’s grounds.
“It is about finding players who fit a particular spot better in certain conditions. That will be our mindset. We will play the World Cup in England, which will be very different to what we get in India. People who might be doing well at home might not necessarily repeat their performances in England. It’s very different. We will have to figure out which players’ game suits the team best in particular conditions that we play, at a particular spot,” Virat Kohli said.
“I don’t think the quality of the team will be compromised in any way regardless of who takes the No.4 position because we have strong batsmen above and below to stabilise the innings.”
While praising, the wrist spinner of India, Virat said, “We are one of the few teams, or probably the only team in world cricket, to be blessed with two wrist-spinners, while Kedar Jadhav is doing the conventional job pretty well for the team. Wrist-spinners help you in any conditions in the world. Wrist-spinners can go for six an over but they will pick you three wickets as well, which is eventually the difference in the game.”
While talking about India’s poor stats in Africa, Virat Kohli said, their team wants to win every single series they play and his squad will be confident with their recent win over South Africa in the recently concluded Test match.
“We obviously want to win every series that we play. Thinking of records or doing something that hasn’t been done before is not something you think of before achieving it. It just adds extra pressure, which is not needed. But yes, we took a lot of confidence from that last Test. As batsmen, obviously, everyone is looking forward to stepping up. Like in the last Test how we believed in ourselves and ended up winning the Test. We have to carry the same belief throughout this series,” Virat Kohli said.
Virat Kohli also opened up about captaincy in the limited over match and said, “In ODI cricket you have to think more, at every moment. In Test cricket, the game has a pattern, and it goes with a flow and a speed. So you can figure out in which session when the momentum shifts. But in ODI cricket, it can be over to over. So you have to always stay ahead of the game. One advantage as a batsman is I can think like one and figure out what must be going through their minds. You have to be on top of the game and do things proactively first rather than later.”
When Virat was asked about pitches in South Africa, he responded by saying that, “The wickets are going to be much better than the Test series, because of the format and this pitch looks pretty balanced I would say for a good game of cricket.”
On team selection, Virat said, “For us as team management, and myself, we look at characters before we look at skills. We look at a guy who scored 40 when the team needed it the most. Compared to a guy who has scored runs but they might not have affected the state of the game that much. We look for game-changers, we look for guys who embrace pressure, we look for guys who want to be in difficult situations because in one-day cricket you don’t have another day to come back and do something extra. You have to make decisions there and then.”
India ODI Squad: Virat Kohli(c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur
South Africa ODI Squad: Faf du Plessis(c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khaya Zondo