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2nd ODI: India to take on host South Africa at St George’s Park in Gqeberha

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In Men’s Cricket, India will take on host South Africa at St George’s Park in Gqeberha today. The match will start at 4:30 PM Indian Time.

Earlier, India defeated hosts South Africa by eight wickets in the opening ODI of the three-match series in Johannesburg on Sunday. India achieved the target of 117 runs in 16.4 overs, losing just two wickets.

Opener Sai Sudharsan with 55 runs and Shreyas Iyer with 52 runs were top scorers for India. Opting to bat first, the hosts were bundled out for a paltry total of 116 in 27.3 overs. Arshdeep Singh was adjudged player of the match for his 5-wicket haul.

Arshdeep became the first Indian pacer to take a five-wicket haul against South Africa in ODI cricket. He is also the fourth bowler to take a five-wicket haul against SA in ODIs for India. Avesh Khan took four. KL Rahul is steering the men in blue in the series, in the absence of Rohit Sharma.  The third ODI of the three-match series will be played on Thursday at Boland Park, Paarl. 

Axar Patel, Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh had gone out for dinner on the eve of the first ODI in Johannesburg and discussed South Africa at the Pink ODIs. About how “brutal” they get when the colour of their kits change from green to pink and “how they hit sixes” in the words of Arshdeep. So you couldn’t blame the left-arm pacer for being a bit surprised at South Africa’s 116 all out, when the plan from the Indian bowlers was something else entirely.

“We were just thinking about restricting them under 400…” Arshdeep would reveal after the match, where he picked the PoTM award for his bowling figures of 5-37.

Look beyond his surprise and there was a lot of effort behind that performance: the way he managed to seam the ball for someone who’s primarily a swing bowler. It involved bowling the scrambled seam ball, bowling from close to the stumps and playing with the bounce on offer, as he would reveal later.

But that said, let alone Arshdeep, nobody saw it coming. The broadcaster’s buildup of how life is going to be “mushkil” (difficult) on these shores belied the nature of India’s victory. Of course the win came at The Wanderers, India’s favourite venue in South Africa where they have won more than they have lost, but what awaits them in the second ODI isn’t too bad either. St George’s Park in Gqeberha is one of the slower venues across the country and promises to bring India’s spinners into the contest too. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shared six wickets the last time India played an ODI here.

For South Africa, it was a bit of a false start under Aiden Markram the ODI captain who is standing in for Temba Bavuma but is touted to take over the reins in the long run anyway. Speaking after the eight-wicket defeat, Markram threw his weight behind “positive batting” like most modern captains but also called for “smart options” from his players. It was unlike anything that KL Rahul asked of his players after the match. He didn’t need to, for he was just “happy” to get a win under his belt, not in the least because this was the first ODI after the World Cup heartbreak and marked the start of a new era in the format, with Rahul likely at the helm of affairs.

How do South Africa come back from this? How do India not get overawed by an unprecedented win? There’s a lot to look forward to in Gqeberha, and fortunately it is not a whole lot of rain.

Squads:

India Squad: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sai Sudharsan, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, KL Rahul(w/c), Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, Kuldeep Yadav, Mukesh Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rajat Patidar, Washington Sundar, Akash Deep

South Africa Squad: Reeza Hendricks, Tony de Zorzi, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram(c), Heinrich Klaasen(w), David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Nandre Burger, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lizaad Williams, Kyle Verreynne, Ottniel Baartman, Mihlali Mpongwana

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