Recent ODI series against SA shows India's backup players' intent to make every opportunity count

Team India won three-match ODI series 2-1 at home against South Africa showed India's backup players' intent to make every opportunity count.

India vs South Africa, 3rd T20I, Top Performances_ Kuldeep Yadav gets player of the match for his 4-18 against South Africa in 3rd ODI; India beat SA _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©Getty Images)
Kuldeep gets POTM for his 4-18 against South Africa in 3rd ODI (Photo: ©Getty Images)

Team India recently won a three-match ODI series 2-1 at home against South Africa playing with a squad which featured a mix of proven performers at the international level and also in the domestic circuit & Indian Premier League (IPL). The show put on by some of the young guns of the Indian team led by Shikhar Dhawan was great to see and is praiseworthy.


After losing the first game of the series by a close margin of 9 runs, India bounced back in style beating a full-strength Proteas team in dominating fashion in the last two fixtures. This shows the never say die attitude of the Indian team and the immense talent of the bench & fringe players. The fightback shown by this team in the recently concluded ODI series raises hopes and augurs well for the team in coming years.


It must be stated that this series is not the first time the same set of players have done well in the ODI format. One has seen them beat West Indies and Zimbabwe in their own backyard under the leadership of veteran Shikhar Dhawan and also in Sri Lanka last year in the ODI series.


The next generation of Indian players are more than capable of stepping up on the big stage even in the absence of senior players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.


Read More: Ind vs SA, 3rd ODI, 2022-23: Kuldeep, Siraj take India to series victory; SA struggle for WSL points


Here are some of the standout young players for India in the recently concluded ODI series against South Africa.


India's Middle order batters

India vs South Africa, 2nd ODI, Top Performances_ Shreyas Iyer scored century (113 off 111) against South Africa in 2nd ODI _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©BCCI)
Shreyas Iyer celebrating century (113 off 111) against Proteas in 2nd ODI (Photo: ©BCCI)

Shreyas Iyer & Sanju Samson

India had the problem of dearth of experience in their batting order going into this series, as most of their main batters had already departed for Australia to prepare for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 by the time this ODI series kicked off. In fact, apart from Shikhar Dhawan, no other batter in the top seven who featured in this series had played over 35 ODI games for India.


So, the responsibility of shouldering the middle order rested on the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson. While Dhawan, the skipper had an ordinary outing in the series, the other two right-handers stepped up when it was required. Iyer has been around for some time and Samson is relatively new to the ODI setup, but both have a plethora of experience having captained their respective franchises in IPL.


Shreyas struck an unbeaten match-winning century (113*) in the 2nd ODI in Ranchi, and Sanju almost single-handedly pulled off a sensational win for India in the 1st ODI in Lucknow where he slammed a scintillating 86*. The duo’s performance gives a glimpse of what is in store for India’s middle order in the coming years.


But is it possible to accommodate both players in the first XI of the Indian team when all the seniors return? It seems difficult now as Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant along with KL Rahul are almost irreplaceable. Also, Shreyas and Sanju are similar sort of players who love to play their strokes at any point of the innings. So, at least for the foreseeable future, one of these talented batters may have to sit out when it comes to ODI cricket, and if it comes to that then it could be Sanju Samson who might be left out because Shreyas Iyer is slowly becoming indispensable for India as far as ODI cricket is concerned.


Shreyas Iyer since 2020 for India in white ball cricket

Format

M

Runs

Average

SR

100s/50s

HS

ODIs

21

823

48.41

95.14

2/6

113*

T20Is

33

804

36.54

138.86

0/6

74*

Though Shreyas is ahead of Sanju in the pecking order, the latter has done nothing wrong in his short international career. Despite a lacklustre start to his T20I career where he got opportunities sporadically, in ODI format he has shown great promise thus far. Also, Samson played at number 5 which is unusual for him, but he succeeded which clearly speaks for his adaptability to any given situation.


Sanju Samson in ODI cricket

Matches

Runs

Average

Strike Rate

100s/50s

HS

10

294

73.50

106.13

0/2

86*

Read More: Ind vs SA, 2nd ODI, 2022-23: India win courtesy Kishan-Iyer 161-run stand, Siraj 3-38; series at 1-1

India vs South Africa, 3rd T20I, Top Performances_ Shubman Gill missed half century (49) against South Africa in 3rd ODI; India beat SA _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©Getty Images)
Shubman Gill carries batting average over 50 in ODI cricket (Photo: ©Getty Images)

India’s top-order

Like the middle order, India’s first XI is packed and there are very few opportunities available for several talented batters across the domestic scene. In this series, one was witness to several youngsters like Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad getting an opportunity.


Shubman Gill, India’s opener for the series had a stunning start to his ODI career. Having made his debut in New Zealand way back in 2019, the right-hander had to wait long for his next opportunity. This came in the form of a call up for India’s tour to West Indies earlier this year, where most of the senior players were rested. Gill scored a couple of half-centuries there before making his maiden international century in Zimbabwe in an ODI game. His returns in South Africa were decent too.


The youngster has shown great promise apart from the calmness, grit, patience and composure he brings when on the crease. These credentials are important if one ought to be a great ODI player.


Like Gill, Ishan Kishan who is an established player for Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL and has over 500+ runs in T20Is, is also relatively new to the ODI arena; but it must be said that he has shone in the few opportunities he has got thus far. Kishan’s most memorable innings for India in ODIs has to be his 93 studded with 7 hits beyond the boundary in the 2nd ODI of this series in Ranchi against a strong South African attack which helped India win the game and level up in the series.


Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill numbers in ODIs

Matches

Runs

Average

Strike Rate

100s/50s

HS

Shubman Gill

12

579

57.90

102.65

1/3

130

Ishan Kishan

9

267

33.37

90.5

0/3

93

Ruturaj Gaikwad too made his ODI debut in this series, but unfortunately couldn’t make it count in the only opportunity he got. But his domestic performance has been exemplary for his state side Maharashtra, where he averages over 53 in List A cricket, 40 in first-class cricket. Gaikwad’s IPL records for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) can certainly not be overlooked as well.


Read More: Can Shubman Gill be future opening option for India in shorter formats?


India's All-rounders

India vs South Africa, 3rd T20I, Top Performances_ Washington Sundar takes 2-15 against South Africa in 3rd ODI; India beat SA _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©BCCI)
Washington Sundar is troubled with injuries recently (Photo: ©BCCI)

Shahbaz Ahmed

Shahbaz Ahmed who has done well for Bengal in the domestic circuit and for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in IPL, earned a call up to this ODI squad. And he didn’t disappoint in the two matches he played in this series. In both games, the left-arm spinner got wickets when it was vitally required for the team.


Ahmed can bat as well, and he has proved that many times in the past in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament (SMAT), which is India’s domestic T20 event, and in the IPL. So, this all-rounder can certainly be groomed as a like-to-like replacement for Ravindra Jadeja or Axar Patel.


Washington Sundar

Washington Sundar has been in the reckoning for India since 2017, but he has represented the team only in 6 ODIs. The all-rounder has suffered multiple unfortunate injuries which has dented his career after having a stunning start to his Test career (match winning performances both home and away).


But overall, Sundar is one of India’s next gen players who is immensely talented and can take the team forward in all formats.


Read More: Ind A vs NZ A, Unofficial ODIs: Sanju Samson top run-scorer; Kuldeep Yadav tops wicket-takers’ list


India's Bowlers

India vs South Africa, 2nd ODI, Top Performances_ Mohammed Siraj took 3-38 against South Africa in 2nd ODI; India beat South Africa _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©BCCI)
Mohammed Siraj is a very fine prospect for India in bowling (Photo: ©BCCI)

Mohammed Siraj

Mohammed Siraj has been an integral part of India’s Test match plans for the last few years but the way the pacer has been doing well in the limited overs format must be heartening to see as an Indian fan. In the absence of premier pacers like Bumrah, Shami, Bhuvneshwar in the ODI series against South Africa, Siraj spearheaded the bowling line-up and bowled rather impressively. He took 3/38 in the Ranchi ODI and helped the team restrict the Proteas to a chaseable total.


His 6 wickets in the series and admirable economy rate in the first two high-scoring games, earned him the player of the series award. Siraj has been consistent throughout 2022 as far as ODIs are concerned. He also had great stints on the overseas tours of West Indies, England and Zimbabwe.


Mohammed Siraj in 2022 for India in ODIs

Matches

Wickets

Average

Economy

BBI

12

18

24

4.45

3/29

Kuldeep Yadav

Another bowler who has made an impressive comeback to the Indian set up has been the chinaman specialist Kuldeep Yadav. The left-arm leggie who has been out of favour for some time, has managed to string in some quality performances and keep him in the reckoning even when the main stars like Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel return.


Kuldeep also had a fantastic List A series against New Zealand A side where he picked up a hat-trick in one of the games.


Kuldeep Yadav in 2022 for India in ODIs

Matches

Wickets

Average

Economy

BBI

4W/5W

7

11

25.45