RANCHI: Deepak Chahar’s unavailability due to an ankle injury will complicate selection matters with India looking for a much improved bowling performance in a must win second ODI against South Africa on Sunday.
Never before a bilateral ODI series has looked so out of context with the T20 World Cup in Australia beginning later this month.
All eyes are now on Rohit Sharma and Co who have already checked in Perth for their T20 World Cup warm-up matches.
The three-match ODI series in India offers little incentive to the fringe players who have missed the flight to Australia.
But with Chahar injuring his ankle ahead of the first ODI in Lucknow and his back troubling him again, it gives India plenty of soul-searching to do on Sunday.
Mohammad Siraj and Avesh Khan have so far failed to impress and that might open the door for uncapped Bengal pacer Mukesh Kumar.
On the batting front, it will be important for Shreyas Iyer to score some runs under his belt as the top-order batter is among the reserve batters for the T20 World Cup.
Iyer, who has been named vice-captain for the series, bailed India out of a top-order collapse on Thursday.
Known for his weakness against short balls and slow strike rate against the pacers, Iyer played a counter-attacking knock.
But the biggest positive for India out of the second ODI was the performance of Sanju Samson, who has not been able to cement his place in the team seven years after his debut.
Samson’s 63-ball 86 oozed maturity and offered a sense of calmness in the middle-order as he took calculated risks in India’s narrow loss.
The happy-go-lucky Shikhar Dhawan has already shown his leadership potential with a second stride in the West Indies and Sri Lanka.
Dhawan will hope that he returns among runs to give the team a solid start, while the talented Shubman Gill will also look to reaffirm his credentials as an ODI opener.
Unlike India, the Temba Bavuma-led South Africa have much to play for with crucial Super League points on offer which will give an automatic qualification for them for the next year’s ODI World Cup.
Personally, Bavuma is going through the worst phase of his career with his scores in the series reading 0, 0, 3 (T20s) and 8 at Lucknow.
With T20 World Cup in two weeks’ time, the Proteas skipper will look to find his form in quick time.
David Miller has proved to be the nemesis for India this series with an unbeaten century in Guwahati and 75 not out in the last match and the lefthander would look to continue his rich form.
The Kagiso Rabada-led pace attack, which copped criticism in the preceding T20 series, also looks to be back in business.