5 talking points ahead of India-SA ODIs

AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)
AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)

Kanpur - Talking points ahead of the five-match one-day series between India and South Africa, which opens in Kanpur on Sunday:

1. Will Steyn, Morkel firepower give Proteas edge?

India, bruised and battered for 92 by South Africa's pace battery during the second T20 game in Cuttack, have more speed shocks coming their way. South Africa will be strengthened by the return of pace spearheads Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who were rested for the T20s. The lethal combination could prove a handful for India's young batsmen.

2. Moment of truth for Dhoni

-Long India's go-to man after leading them to title triumphs in the 50-over World Cup, the World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy, Mahendra Singh Dhoni suddenly finds himself under pressure to keep his crown. Knives are out for the limited-overs great after the T20 series loss to the Proteas that followed the stunning 2-1 defeat to Bangladesh in June. Dhoni, 34, needs to win the ODIs - and also contribute with the bat - to assure himself the leadership role at next year's World Twenty20.

3. No grass please, we are Indians

Seeing his team dismantled on a lively Cuttack pitch, Dhoni hopes wickets for all five one-dayers will be shorn of grass and turn out to be typically placid batting deck. "It's a home series, so let's have that advantage," he said. "We don't want a lot of grass cover." India may not want rank turners either, for in leg-spinner Imran Tahir the tourists have an effective slow bowler to exploit the conditions.

4. Goof costs Kanpur night games

The first match in Kanpur on Sunday will be the only-day game in the series. The other four will be played under lights. It's not that Kanpur's Green Park stadium does not possess floodlights. They were installed way back in 2006 but the subsequent faulty construction of a VIP stand resulted in its roof blocking one of the floodlight towers. Local cricket boss Rajeev Shukla, who also serves as the Indian Premier League (IPL) chairperson, has promised to sort out the mess after Sunday's game.

5. New format, new captain

With South Africa naming different captains for the three formats, it leaves fans confused about who is in charge on the field. Faf du Plessis may have won the T20 series, but he makes way for AB de Villiers for the one-dayers. And even a 5-0 sweep will not guarantee de Villiers the captaincy for the Test series. That honour belongs to Hashim Amla. "We feed off each other," du Plessis said. "It also lessens the pressure on a long tour like this one."

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