A buoyant India will look to cash in on South Africa's injury woes, compounded by the loss of captain Faf du Plessis, when the two sides meet in the second ODI on Sunday. The visitors won their first-ever ODI against South Africa at Durban on Thursday by six wickets and took a 1-0 lead in the six-match series. That defeat ended the Proteas' 17-match unbeaten run on home soil stretching back to February 2016, when they had lost to England at Port Elizabeth.
In the aftermath of the Durban defeat, South Africa have lost skipper du Plessis to a finger injury. He had suffered a blow during the first ODI and later scans revealed that he had suffered a fracture, thus ruling him out for three to six weeks. He will miss the remainder of the ODI series as well as the entire T20I series against India as well.
This was on top of AB de Villiers finger injury, sustained during the third Test at Wanderers, but he was only ruled out of the first three ODIs.
Even so, the hosts will be very demoralised with this turn of events, especially since they need to fight back to avoid going 2-0 down so early in this contest.
Batsman Farhaan Behardien has been recalled to the ODI squad after he was left out initially in favour of Khayelihle Zondo as part of their preparation for the 2019 World Cup.
While Zondo didn't play at Durban, it is anticipated that he will continue to sit out, as Behardien will walk into the playing eleven given the circumstances. The latter had last featured against Bangladesh in October 2017.
The latter has been struggling for form and scored a patchy 34 off 49 balls in the first game. It is tough to envisage that de Kock will be dropped just yet, but Klaasen's inclusion ought to send him a signal of the team management intent.
The Proteas management have another headache before the Centurion ODI, though. They are yet to announce the captain for the remainder of this ODI series. De Villiers had led in the one-off four-day Test against Zimbabwe when du Plessis was last sidelined in December. However, they might turn to former skipper Hashim Amla in this moment of need.
South Africas bother doesn't end here. The hosts will momentarily lose their no.1 status in the ICC ODI rankings should India take a 2-0 lead at Supersport Park. As it is, the Men in Blue need a 4-2 overall series victory to step up and affirmatively claim the top spot in the 50-overs format.
They will be carrying the winning momentum into this second ODI, after a stunning victory at the Wanderers Test and another easy win at Durban. Unlike Kingsmead, India have a better record at this venue, having played 11 ODIs inclusive of four wins and five losses.
Their most famous win here came against Pakistan in the 2003 ODI World Cup. Against South Africa, they have played five ODIs at Centurion, winning two and losing as many. However, their last ODI win over the Proteas here was in 2001-02 during the triangular series (also involving Kenya).
Since then, they have lost an ODI each during the 2006-07 and 2010-11 tours, whilst their last ODI during the 2013-14 tour was washed off.
The Indian team management, of course, doesn't pay attention to such statistics. They are more concerned with their player's current form instead. In that light, the visitors don't have any selection bothers at the moment.
No.4 was the only spot that saw some experimentation in recent times, but Ajinkya Rahanes fluent 79 runs off 86 balls in the first ODI has meant that he will occupy this spot in the short term at least.
The Centurion pitch came under sharp criticism for its sub-continental type nature during the second Test here, which South Africa won by 135 runs. It is understood that the groundsmen would have done a better job for this series (wherein Supersport Park will host two out of six ODIs), albeit a flat wicket is still expected in keeping with the shorter formats.
It remains to be seen though if there will be some assistance for the spin like in Durban. Irrespective of conditions though, Virat Kohli will be tempted to go in with the same playing eleven. It would mean another trial by wrist-spin for South Africa's depleted batting line-up, as Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will look to wreak havoc once again.
The second ODI will be a day-game (the only one in this series) on account of a Sunday as is the norm in this country. A full house is expected nevertheless.
India: Virat Kohli (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram (C), David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen.
The match starts at 1.30 pm IST.
(With PTI Inputs)