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KL Rahul returns as India aim to start fresh after World Cup Final loss

India will be back in the 50-over format for the first time since their loss in the World Cup 2023 final. Wickekeeper-batter KL Rahul will take up the captaincy in the absence of Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya in the 3-match series against South Africa.

While many are questioning the placement of the series right after the world tournament, there could be a lot to look forward to from an India point of view. India have called up several young stars in the tour. It is possible that they get called up in the first XI, in case India wins the first match.

Squad News

The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a day ahead of the first ODI that Deepak Chahar has been forced to withdraw from the series due to a personal emergency. Aakash Deep has been added in the mix but is unlikely to play due to the presence of Mukesh Kumar, Prasidh Krishna and Arshdeep Singh.

India head coach Rahul Dravid will not be a part of this series and India will be under the guidance of the A team coaching staff.

Samson Returns

Sanju Samson will get another opportunity to prove his worth for India. While he did well against West Indies in the ODI format earlier this year, playing the role of an aggressor brilliantly, this could be the time that he becomes a little more selfish, maybe in terms of milestones at least.

The batter will be expected to play in the middle order and will hope to grab the attention of the selectors going closer to the T20 World Cup.

Bowlers in Focus

The Indian playing XI is going to have young and budding stars of Indian cricket. The first ODI will be key for India to see how the unit fares against a near full-strength South African batting line-up. In South Africa’s last home series against Australia, the teams played out some high-scoring matches, and this could turn out to be along similar lines.

These matches could help Indian bowlers get used to pressure situations.

Match Details

SA vs IND: First ODI
Venue: New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Date: 17 December, Sunday
Timing: 1:30 PM IST
Broadcast: Star Sports and Hotstar

Predicted Playing XIs

India: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (c & wk), Sanju Samson, Rinku Singh, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar.

South Africa: Reeza Hendricks, Tony de Zorzi, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram (c), Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi, Nandre Burger, Lizaad Williams