South Africa vs India 2021-22: India's predicted squad for ODI series

India will play three ODIs in South Africa for the first time since their 5-1 series win in 2017-18.

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Indian Cricket Team

Indian Cricket Team. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)

Indian Cricket Team
Indian Cricket Team. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)

India’s 2022 will start with a big challenge of an away tour against South Africa. The team is currently busy playing in the Boxing Day Test and had a brilliant opening day’s play. They will also face the hosts in three ODIs later. Historically, India didn’t have a great record in bilateral series in that part of the world. However, they did qualify for the final when the World Cup was played in 2003. 

All of the poor records and history were completely changed when Virat Kohli and his men traveled to the nation in the 2017-18 season. After losing the Test series 2-1, India smashed South Africa 5-1 in the ODI series and ended up with the T20I series as well. As India prepares itself once again to conquer the same nation, here is India’s probable ODI squad for the South Africa tour 2021-22. 


1. Rohit Sharma (C)

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

This will be the first ODI series for Rohit Sharma as India’s full-time captain in the format. But he will have to get fully fit to travel to the rainbow nation. He is currently in Bengaluru at the NCA recovering from hamstring injury and it remains to be seen if he wins this race against time. 

As far as his current form is concerned, Rohit Sharma smashed some long balls in the recent T20Is. He also got the player of the series award during India’s triumph over New Zealand at home recently. He hasn’t played an ODI since March 2021, but considering his record in the last few months, there is no concern over his form. 

Despite his brilliant record in ODIs, Sharma’s numbers in South Africa aren’t too great. In 14 matches in the rainbow nation, he scored just 256 runs at an average of 19.69 with a strike rate of 68.44. His only 50+ score came during the 2017-18 tour when he smashed 115 runs from 126 balls in Port Elizabeth. He would be looking to conquer South Africa this time around. 

2. Ruturaj Gaikwad

Ruturaj Gaikwad
Ruturaj Gaikwad. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

Ruturaj Gaikwad enjoyed a sensational run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy where he scored four centuries in five matches. Overall, he amassed 603 runs in five innings at an impeccable average of 150.75 and the highest score of 168 runs. He ended up as the highest run-getter of the tournament and scored his runs at a brilliant strike-rate of 112.92.

He is more or less certain to get picked for the ODI series against South Africa thanks to his IPL form which he followed up with a sensational VHT. Moreover, the axe will most likely fall on the incumbent opener Shikhar Dhawan who didn’t have a great time in the domestic tournament featuring for Delhi.

Dhawan endured a torrid time with the bat as he mustered only 56 runs in five innings at an average of 11.20. With young players coming through thick and fast, the selectors might opt for Ruturaj as an opener ahead of him for the South Africa ODIs.

3. Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

It would be unfair to say that Kohli is under some pressure, but it is true that by the time he plays the first ODI against South Africa, he would have gone without a century in the format for more than two years. There’s a lot of rumors around him keeping his ODI captaincy as well, which might put some pressure on him. 

But, fans might know quite well by now that the Indian captain thrives on these chances and delivers his best. He hasn’t had a lot of runs under his belt, but there have been reasons which have contributed to that. But, he would want to start 2022 with a bang and bat as well as he has set the standards for himself. 

His record in South Africa is remarkable. He scored three centuries during India’s historic 5-1 series win in the African nation last time around in 2017-18. In 17 games in South Africa, Kohli has scored 877 runs at an average of 87.70 and a strike rate of 90.22, which includes three hundred and four fifties. 

4. Shreyas Iyer

Shreyas Iyer
Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

After the 2019 World Cup, the Mumbai batter was identified as the No. 4 batter in the Indian batting line-up. He did quite well-scoring runs whenever he got an opportunity. However, since scoring his maiden ODI century in New Zealand in early 2020, his numbers aren’t too great. On top of that, the emergence of Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul in the middle order has affected his place in this team slightly. 

After getting injured in the first ODI against England earlier this year, he has not played a 50 overs match. His form in limited-overs since returning from injury hasn’t been top class but he has managed to score vital runs from his IPL franchise, Delhi Capitals in the second leg. Based on all of that, he will be selected in the squad but whether he makes it to the playing XI is yet to be seen. 

He was with the Indian team during the 2017-18 series as well and even played three matches. However, he was batting quite low in the order at the time when he didn’t have a lot of experience of playing that role. He scored 48 runs in two innings and would want to make a mark in this tour if given the proper opportunity. 

5. KL Rahul

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

In the last couple of years, KL Rahul’s game and batting talent has been rightly shown to the entire world. The performances which were expected out of him on a regular basis have come finally and that too across formats. Given his potential, his revival is a huge boost to the Indian batting stocks moving forward. 

He has quite taken up a role in the Indian ODI middle-order and managed to put up strong performances which suggest that he could turn out to become one of the very best in the world in that role. He could be given the role of No. 4 in this ahead of Shreyas Iyer and has often proven that he is an excellent pick for that spot. 

His form in Tests, IPL, T20Is, and even the last time he played an ODI match has never to be complained about. He has not played an ODI in South Africa and doesn’t have a lot of experience in those conditions. However, given his expertise and potential, it should not be a problem for him.

6. Rishabh Pant (WK)

Rishabh Pant. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Rishabh Pant’s career has seen quite a few ups and downs in a very short time. However, there is no doubt over his potential and excellence. In the past 12 months, he has proved everyone wrong, whoever has doubted him. All of that started in Tests, but that form has spilled into ODI and T20Is as well. 

His ODI stats might not have anything to write home about as of now. However, in some knocks, he has shown why India should stick with him and prepare to take up an important role in the middle order for the next World Cup, which will be played in home conditions in 2023. On top of that, he is now officially India’s go-to wicketkeeper in all formats. 

It should be noted that this will be his first tour to South Africa and he might like the challenge of facing tough conditions. He scored 77 runs from 40 balls and 78 runs from 62 balls against England in two consecutive ODIs when he last played the format. Those knocks showed that he is capable of delivering in this format as well, but India needs to persist with him. 

7. Ravi Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Ravi Ashwin has made a brilliant comeback to white-ball cricket after a hiatus of four years. He played well in the T20 World Cup for India and fared superbly in the New Zealand T20Is at home as well. His performances are set to pave the way for the off-spinner’s return to the ODIs as well.

Ashwin played his last ODI in June 2017 and with no Jadeja in the line-up, the selectors will most likely fall back on his experience in the spin department. Reports also suggest that he will be included in the squad.

As far as the numbers in ODIs for Ashwin is concerned, he has accounted for 150 wickets in 111 matches at an average of 32.91. His economy of less than five is also exceptional given the way modern cricket is played these days.

8. Yuzvendra Chahal

Yuzvendra Chahal
Yuzvendra Chahal. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The last few months have been a bit difficult for Yuzvendra Chahal. Since 2017, he has been India’s premier spinner in white-ball cricket. But since MS Dhoni’s retirement, his form has dipped a bit with experts suggesting that he is probably lacking some assistance. After having a poor series in Australia in 2020, he sat on the benches for the home ODI series against England in early 2021. 

After this, he did have two good performances in Sri Lanka, where he picked up five wickets in two games, which was a massive confidence booster for him. He had a good second leg of the IPL 2021 as well but was shockingly dropped from the T20 World Cup 2021 squad. He has since then returned to the T20I side, but it is evident that he isn’t still the no. 1 pick. 

With Kuldeep Yadav being on the sidelines, Chahal will be at the forefront against South Africa this time. In 2017-18, he and Kuldeep had run havoc over the Proteas batters, with Chahal picking 16 wickets in six games at an average of 16.37. Given that and his supreme record against South Africa, he should make the first XI.

9. Mohammed Shami

Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Mohammed Shami has been quite incredible with the ball in all three formats since his comeback. In the last few years, there is no doubt that he has become one of the main aspects of the Indian bowling attack. He has managed to perform in all conditions, picking up wickets when India required and is arguably the team’s second-best pacer after Jasprit Bumrah. 

The Bengal seamer hasn’t played an ODI since November 2020, but with his record and experience in the format, it shouldn’t be a problem for him. He hasn’t played a lot in the format, because of workload management and mainly, the team itself hasn’t played a lot. But his style of bowling would be quite helpful for India in the conditions of South Africa. 

He will enjoy pace, bounce and seam movement from the surfaces and could reap some rewards. Shami didn’t get a game in the 2017-18 tour but should start this time around. In 2013, he played his only three games in South Africa, where he picked nine wickets at an average of 20.55.

10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The Uttar Pradesh fast-bowler has been a vital member of the Indian white-ball team since the last time he travelled to South Africa 2017-18. It was also the last time he played a red-ball match and since then injuries and workload management has meant he has played only in the white-ball set-up. 

His form hasn’t been top-class in the past few months but regular injuries can have an effect on any player’s body, especially fast-bowlers. However, in his last five ODIs, he has picked up nine wickets which include some fantastic performances against England and Sri Lanka in batting-friendly conditions. 

His ODI record in South Africa isn’t too bright though. He has only two wickets in six games with an average of 134 and an economy of more than six. Given the way this Indian team is shaped up, he will be the top contender to become the third seamer in the playing XI after Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.

11. Jasprit Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Jasprit Bumrah is arguably the most skillful bowler in the world. If there is someone who has been consistent across all the three formats over the past few years, it has been him. He has managed to get wickets, bowl with the new ball and old ball, bowl economically and deliver at the death. In short, there is nothing he can’t do. 

He hasn’t played a lot of ODI cricket in recent times. In fact, his last 50 overs match for India was way back in November 2020 in Australia. In that series, he got a bit of hammering but his spell of 2 for 43 helped India win the final game in Canberra. He had bowled some tremendous yorkers at the death to directly help the team in the win. 

When India won the ODI series in 2017-18 in South Africa, Bumrah was a crucial member. He picked up eight wickets in six games at an average of 20.87 and an economy of under four. He has been in good form across formats and India would want him to continue that in the South African tour as well.

12. Hardik Pandya/Venkatesh Iyer

Venkatesh Iyer
Venkatesh Iyer. (Photo Source: BCCI)

There is a lot of speculation over one spot. Given the conditions in South Africa and the absences of proper all-rounders, India might pick one between Venkatesh Iyer or Hardik Pandya. The latter has been India’s premier all-rounder in the ODI format for the past few years. However, his injuries have extensively reduced his bowling ability. 

Going by the recent reports, there is a huge cloud of doubt overhead in terms of Pandya’s selection for the South African tour. If he is not fit for bowling then India might not pick him entirely based on his batting. Even though he has been good at No. 6 in recent times in ODI cricket, without his bowling India might be reluctant to pick him. 

This is where Venkatesh Iyer comes into the picture. He was picked up for the recent T20I series and played at No. 6 as a batter with an option of being the sixth bowler if required. India might also give him a call-up for the ODI series and use him in a similar position to keep their options open for the future.

13. Suryakumar Yadav

Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

The last 12 months have been quite a rollercoaster ride for Suryakumar Yadav. After being sidelined for years, he was suddenly picked in the Indian white-ball setup and delivered his goods whenever being called upon. He was part of the ODI series against England at home.

That almost assures his place on the flight to South Africa. He is also a vital member of the T20I squad at the very least. He made his ODI debut in Sri Lanka earlier this year and showed what he is capable of in the 50 overs format. In that series, he scored 124 runs at an average of 62 and a strike rate of 122.77. 

He might not get a chance in the first XI but certainly, he will be a backup option for filling in a spot in the middle order if required. India could even test him out given the fact that it could be a good step forward-looking at the 50 overs World Cup in 2023. For now, India can feel safe that they have a capable backup player for their middle order.

14. Mohammed Siraj

Mohammed Siraj
Mohammed Siraj. (Photo by Mark Brake – CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

Much like Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj has been one of the leading stars who has emerged from the Indian cricket circuit in the past year or so. He always had a talent of being a fierce fast-bowler but it has been only in the last few months that the country has come across his true potential. 

He has not played a lot of ODI cricket. In fact, his only ever game came way back in early 2019 in Adelaide where he failed to pick up a wicket and conceded 76 runs. But, Siraj is a much better bowler now. He has proved in the recent past that he can be consistent and accurate and also picked wickets regularly at the highest level. 

Keeping the 2023 World Cup in mind, he is someone who can grow into an impact player for the Indian team in all formats. He has 81 wickets in 48 List A games at an average of 23.37, which suggests there is quality and a little experience as well. He might not start in the playing XI but could get a game by the end of the series.

15. Shardul Thakur 

Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Since making his ODI debut in 2017, Shardul Thakur has mostly been in and out of the ODI team. He has just played 15 matches so far and until his last series against England at home earlier this year, he never really played regularly. He has always been a backup option for the team and has played a game here and there in the absence of the main men. 

However, when this time he goes to South Africa, there will be a greater amount of credibility behind him. In the last 12 months, he performed well in all the three formats for the Indian team. In fact, he produced a match-winning spell of 4 for 67 in his last ODI game against England. His form in the IPL was also good where he helped Chennai Super Kings win the title. 

Quite interestingly, he was also part of the South African tour in 2017-18. Thakur played just one match in Centurion where he managed to end with figures of 4 for 52, which was one of his first good performances at the international level. India did win that match and whenever ‘Lord’ plays well, the country cheers only for wins. He might not start in the first XI but could get a game here and there. 

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