India and South Africa will begin their three-match ODI series with the first game in Dharamsala on Thursday (March 12).
Here is a look at the key battles ahead of the game.
Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar v Quinton de Kock
All eyes will be on how the Indian pacers perform, for different reasons. Bhuvneshwar is returning after injury, having last played an ODI in August last year. Will he be able to find swing? Will he be able to bowl at full pace? Will he get through the series without further fitness issues?
Bumrah, meanwhile, will be in focus as he has not been in the best of forms recently. He went wicketless in the three-ODI series in New Zealand and will be keen to prove a point. Both pacers will be against an in-form and high on confidence Quinton de Kock.
De Kock led South Africa to a whitewash over Australia at home, and although he didn’t make too many runs in the ODIs, he was in fine hitting form in the T20Is and the series against England. He has a very good record against India, and how he deals with the Indian pacers at the top might set up the contest.
Lungi Ngidi v Virat Kohli
Scores of 51, 15 and 9 in the three ODIs against New Zealand, followed by a poor performance in the two-Test series mean Kohli finds himself in a rare position of pressure for being ‘out of form’. The occasional dip in form is inevitable and the Indian captain is known to rise back quickly. The series against South Africa could well be the beginning of better things.
He will be against an in-form Lungi Ngidi, who picked up 6/58 in his last ODI, against Australia. The pacer has picked up 12 wickets from four matches after returning from injury, and his experience of playing in the IPL will be useful in leading the South African pace attack in Indian conditions.
Yuzvendra Chahal v Heinrich Klaasen
123*, 51 and 68* - these are the scores of Klaasen in his last three ODIs. Klaasen has played against India in the past and tasted success, which will make him even more confident going into the series.
Klaasen is known to hit big against spinners, which puts the onus on Yuzvendra Chahal. The two have been teammates at Royal Challengers Bangalore in the past and will put up a good contest. Chahal is in good form too; he picked up six wickets in two ODIs in New Zealand, and will be keen to continue the form in the middle overs.
Keshav Maharaj v Hardik Pandya
The one Indian cricketer in focus this series will be Hardik Pandya. The allrounder hasn’t played international cricket since August last year, having been sidelined with a back injury which required a surgery. His absence had affected India’s balance, but he seems to be back in shape now. He proved his fitness - and form - in the DY Patil T20 tournament recently where he struck two centuries. India will be glad to have a fit and diring Pandya back in the side.
Pandya is known to take a liking to left-arm spinners, and will be up against a good one in Maharaj. It will be a stiff challenge for Maharaj, who returned to South Africa’s ODI fold with the three-match series against Australia.