Old tormentors lick lips over Proteas

It is a reasonably well-known fact, globally, that South Africa can turn to jelly in white-ball cricket when confronted by spinners whose trades go beyond the bog-standard.

But that will be the challenge for the Proteas once more over the next few days when the guile-oozing, pretty unorthodox figures of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal play pivotal roles - at least you'd heavily suspect as much - in India's attack during the three-match ODI series.

It starts at Dharamshala on Thursday (10:00 SA time) with the host nation boasting pleasant memories of the last bilateral series tussle: a 5-1 rout of the South Africans on their visit to these shores in 2017/18, probably the worst embarrassment the Proteas have suffered on home soil.

That series was overwhelmingly characterised by the web Yadav, the left-arm chinaman specialist, and leg-spin/googly maestro Chahal spun around their befuddled batting foes.

Between them, the pair accounted for a remarkable 33 of the 51 SA wickets claimed by Indian bowlers ... or almost 65 percent.

The 25-year-old Yadav earned premier honours with 17 scalps alone at an average of 13.88, but the wiry Chahal, 29, was breathing right down his neck: 16 at 16.37.

At very few stages did the bewildered Proteas give the impression during those traumatic clashes that they were on top of the "mystery" duo.

Subsequent events against other foes have also done relatively little to suggest that Quinton de Kock and company are ready to turn things notably around against that highly-valued trade, though Australia's leggie Adam Zampa, in fairness, was rendered ineffectual in the most recent series, averaging a bloated 47 with the ball across the three contests.

Is that a sign that the Proteas are beginning to twig over how to combat such weaponry?

For the imminent combat with India, they will be fielding several batsmen who were part of the Yadav-Chahal havoc of some two years back, including Faf du Plessis, Heinrich Klaasen, De Kock, David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo.

But a potentially more heartening development is that players like Temba Bavuma, Janneman Malan, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne and Jon-Jon Smuts weren't, so they will enter the matches without any special nightmares against those "destroyers" to recollect.

While the staging of the current series on Indian pitches themselves is hardly a source of comfort for South African enthusiasts, bear in mind that the Proteas actually won the last ODI series on that terrain ... 3-2 in 2015/16, when the Test series was, by stark contrast, such a wretched experience for them.

Chahal and Yadav weren't part of the Indian limited-overs mix on that occasion, however, as India relied primarily on veteran Harbhajan Singh for their spin requirements; he is now almost 40 and long gone from international cricket.

The "Turbanator" was only moderately effective in that series, grabbing six for 212 at 35.33.

Considering the prior carnage, you'd imagine the present Proteas would be happy for Yadav and Chahal to be curtailed to statistics not unlike those over the course of the next few days ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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