As much as South Africa want to experiment ahead of the World Cup, they saw a flat pitch in Durban, knew the new ball would move more under lights, and made a straightforward decision to bat. Faf du Plessis and his men are riding a serious winning streak, having won their last 17 ODIs at home.
India, too, are a formidable limited-overs team and they’ve persisted with the combination that has fetched them a lot of success since the Champions Trophy. But there was one change that might be talked about: the return of Ajinkya Rahane. In the pre-match press conference, he got the nod from captain Virat Kohli as a viable option in the middle order in overseas conditions in ODIs, because in such conditions an older ball still comes onto the bat quickly enough. The rest of the XI was straightforward, with the two wristspinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav coming in. So too did MS Dhoni.
South Africa’s No. 4 would be a point of interest as well. With AB de Villiers out with a finger injury for the first three ODIs, Aiden Markram has been tasked with the role. The 23-year-old has opened the batting in 23 out of 26 List A innings, but keeping in mind the team management’s desire to test players in unfamiliar positions, he has been shifted down to the middle order, alongside JP Duminy, David Miller and Chris Morris.
South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis (capt), 4 Aiden Markram, 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir
India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal