South Africa v India
SuperSport Park, Centurion
Sunday, 4 February 10:00 local time; 8:00 GMT
India's resounding win over South Africa in Durban not only put the tourists 1-0 up in the six-match ODI series, it sent a big message. South Africa, ranked number one in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings, were unbeaten in 17 ODIs at home before a Virat Kohli-inspired India arrived to beat them by six wickets at Kingsmead.
Aside from home captain Faf du Plessis' wonderful 120, South Africa were out-played in every department. Despite their relative international inexperience, India's wrist-spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, were superb, taking five wickets between them to gut the opposition batting line-up. Their efforts ensured the batsmen were left with a score of 269/8, which they chased comfortably.
Kohli then put on the kind of masterclass we are getting used to, pacing his innings of 112 to perfection and putting on 189 with Ajinkya Rahane (79). The Indian skipper's 33rd ODI century – and his 20th when chasing – was absolutely dominant. In many ways it was a perfect series-opener: India have thrown down the gauntlet; it is now up to South Africa to respond.
The hosts will have to respond without captain du Plessis, who has been ruled out of the remaining ODIs and following T20I series with a fractured finger sustained in the field at Kingsmead. The 33-year-old will need three-to-six weeks to recover, meaning he is also a doubt for the four-Test series against Australia that starts on 1 March. With du Plessis and AB de Villiers sidelined, South Africa have called up batsman Farhaan Behardien and wicket-keeper Heinrich Klaasen as cover. At the time of writing the Proteas were yet to announce who would captain the side in du Plessis' absence.
If India can win the series by a 4-2 scoreline or better they will claim the much-coveted top spot in the ODI team rankings. South Africa need a drawn series or better to retain their place. It's game on in Centurion.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa): In the first ODI, Rabada bowled with excellent pace, regularly clocking around 150kph. However, he claimed figures of 0/48 from his 9.3 overs, with Kohli in particular playing him well. Rabada is an outstanding talent, ranked as the sixth-best ODI bowler in the MRF Tyres ICC Rankings, and his side will be hoping for a destructive spell at Centurion, where he should find a pitch with pace and bounce. While it was largely the batsmen who were at fault in Durban, it is Rabada who could hold the key to neutralising the threat of India's batting.
Virat Kohli (India): As much as you may want to highlight other players, India's captain makes it difficult to overlook him. His performance in the first ODI was as spectacular as it was inevitable. Kohli is simply awe-inspiring with a target to chase down: he has now scored 18 of his 33rd ODI hundreds when batting second to secure wins for his side, at an average of 94.04. His competitiveness, leadership, match-awareness and shot selection make him a game-changer. If South Africa can dismiss him early, they stand a much better chance of winning.
South Africa enjoyed themselves last time out at Centurion in an ODI. The Proteas racked up 384/6 batting first against Sri Lanka, with openers Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla both scoring centuries in an opening stand of 187. Both players have particularly good records at the ground: de Kock averages 90.33 with four hundreds in six innings while Amla has scored 846 ODI runs at an average of 76.90 with five hundreds in 12 knocks. South Africa have won 24 of their 36 matches there.
Weather-wise, the match could be in for some interruptions with potential for thunderstorms in the afternoon and 27-degrees forecast.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khaya Zondo
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Shardul Thakur