After the T20I series ended 1-1, with the first match getting washed out, India and South Africa gear up for the 1st ODI of the 3-match series in Johannesburg. The wounds of India’s heartbreaking defeat in the ODI World Cup 2023 haven’t yet healed but a young brigade is ready to take the process forward. The likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are all absent while Hardik Pandya is still nursing an injury. KL Rahul will be leading the Indian team in the series, looking to get an early glimpse of some players who may feature in the next 50-over World Cup.

With Rohit and Gill but not part of the squad, India will have a new opening pair for the first ODI against South Africa. The likes of Rajat Patidar and Sai Sudharsan are expected to be handed their debut caps and open for the India in the ODI series opener. The duo have impressed selectors in the domestic circuit and IPL. It’s time for them to step up and do the same in the Indian jersey.

With Shreyas Iyer at No. 3 and KL Rahul and No. 4, India have a reliable middle-order. The duo will act as the heart of India’s batting while the likes of Tilak Varma and Sanju Samson are likely to take up the No. 5 and No. 6 spots in the team. Samson’s return will be welcomed by many, but it would be interesting to see if the Kerala star takes the wicket-keeper’s role or not.

When it comes to all-round options, Axar Patel is the only name on the teamsheet, followed by spinner Kuldeep Yadav who has gradually proved to be handy with the bat.

Arshdeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan are likely to be the three pacers. With the Johannesburg weather likely to offer cloudy conditions, the trio’s performance on the day will be crucial to India’s chances of winning the ODI series opener.

India’s Predicted XI vs South Africa, 1st ODI:Rajat Patidar, Sai Sudharsan, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (capt), Tilak Varma, Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar, Avesh Khan

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