New Delhi: Having enjoyed a break after the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, MS Dhoni means business going into the ODIs against South Africa. Joining the team towards the end of the third Test between India and South Africa in Johannesburg, Dhoni got some time to adapt to the change in conditions and the former India skipper is ready to get started as he showed great intensity at the nets on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s opening game in Durban.
Interestingly, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has challenged the Indian team to change their record in ODIs in the Rainbow Nation. But he was quick to add that this Indian team does have the talent to change the record.
"I think it (the poor record) tells a story. It means that there is something difficult for touring teams to come here and get accustomed to. But as I mentioned before the Test series, I feel like this Indian cricket team has got the names on paper to challenge that and get some victories in South Africa.
"They have proved that in the Test series and they are a quality team. So I expect the same (challenge and intensity) in the ODIs coming up," said du Plessis on Wednesday.
After losing the three-Test rubber 1-2, India will be eager to bounce back when they face South Africa in the opener of the six-match One-day International (ODI) series on Thursday.
The first ODI between India and South Africa will be played in Durban and the live broadcast will be shown on Sony Ten Network, starting 3:30 PM. The match can be streamed online on Sony Liv.com. For live scores, updates, and analysis, you can follow our live blog on cricketnext.com.
Despite losing the Test series, the Virat Kohli-led side will take a lot of heart from their performance in the final match in Johannesburg, which they won by 63 runs on a "poor" Wanderers pitch. With only 14 months to go for the 2019 ODI World Cup, India will also look to kick off their preparations in earnest during the series.
India have a long limited-overs' schedule until their next big Test assignment -- the five-Test rubber against England in August. After engaging in six ODIs and three T20Is against the Proteas here, the men-in-blue will head to Sri Lanka for a T20I tri-series before playing three ODIs and as many T20Is in England and Ireland, with the 2018 IPL season in between.
With so much of limited-overs' cricket to be played in overseas conditions, especially South Africa and England, this will allow the Indian team management to try out the various combinations and fix up certain spots before the quadrennial tournament in England next year.
Speaking of the upcoming series, India will also be keen to better their past record and focus on winning their first-ever bilateral ODI series on South African soil. India have previously lost 2-5 in 1992-93, 0-4 in 2006-07, 2-3 in 2010-11 and 0-2 in 2013-14. They were also part of two triangular series in 1996-97 and 2001-02, featuring Zimbabwe and Kenya respectively, but the Proteas emerged victors on both occasions.