Confident India will look to take lead in ODI series

Monday, January 17, 2011

CAPE TOWN - Bolstered by their stunning comeback in Johannesburg, India would confidently take on South Africa in the third One-day international here Tuesday, though a few injury worries continue to rankle them ahead of the World Cup.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s biggest problem will be to crack an opening combination after Sachin Tendulkar returned home with a hamstring injury.

With Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir also sitting out with injuries, Murali Vijay was the only regular opener left in the squad. Under the circumstances, Parthiv Patel was named Tendulkar’s replacement as the wicketkeeper-batsman can open the batting.

But it remains to be seen whether Vijay and Parthiv would face the new ball or Dhoni prefers some other combination. Virat Kohli is certainly an option Dhoni would be looking at.

“I don’t know who will open. Vijay is looking a bit out of form, but he’s working well in the nets and form is just a matter of a few strokes,” Dhoni said after the second ODI.

The captain would also like to give Yusuf Pathan some matches before the World Cup with the all-rounder making the cut in the 15-member World Cup squad.

In the bowling department, Ravichandran Ashwin and Piyush Chawla, who are also included in the World Cup squad, would be hoping to get some matches under their belt.

Dhoni made it clear after the second match that he would rotate his frontline bowlers as some of them have been carrying niggles to keep them injury-free for the World Cup.

“We will have to see what kind of niggle a bowler is having and accordingly we will decide,” Dhoni said.

“This series is important, but I don’t want any bowler to get injured because of over burden. We will try to avoid it because the World Cup is big for us,” he said.

India would hope that just like the second Test at Durban, which breathed life in their campaign after the spanking in Centurion, their fortunes in five-match ODI series would also turn for the better.

The visitors were battered in the first ODI at Durban, but came back with some inspiring performance at Johhanesburg led by seamers Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan. The batsmen, however, need to join the party.

As for South Africa, Graeme Smith and his men will do good to leave behind the memory of the second ODI where they lost from a winning position.

Smith, will also want his batting unit to deliver and complement the pace trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who have kept the Indians on the backfoot so far in the series.

The teams (from):

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Murali Vijay, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Shantakumaran Sreesanth.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Colin Ingram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

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