South Africa will hope to draw on their experiences of playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) when they begin their three-match one-day international (ODI) series against India in Jaipur today. "A lot of teams are adapting to the conditions in the subcontinent a lot better because of spending more time here," said Jacques Kallis, who will be leading South Africa as Graeme Smith, the regular captain, is ruled out with a finger injury.
"You end up playing with a lot of Indian players during the IPL, so you see how they do things and how their mentality works. "All of that does help and players all around the world are learning how to adapt better here now." There have been some impressive individual performances from the Proteas contingent in the first two IPLs, the second of which was held in South Africa, with the likes of Smith, Kallis and JP Duminy among the leading lights of the Twenty20 tournament.
Kallis is hoping the experience will help his team to a series win and dislodge India as the world's second-ranked ODI team behind Australia. Hashim Amla, South Africa's most successful batsman in the recent drawn Test series, has been retained in the ODI team as a cover for Smith and the Proteas will be further strengthened by the return of Mark Boucher, the wicket- keeper, who missed the second Test with a back injury.
"Boucher is on track with his recovery and we are confident he will play on Sunday," Michael Owen-Smith, the South Africa media manager, said yesterday. While the Proteas will be missing Smith, India will be hampered by the absence of their two prime bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh. Zaheer is ruled out of the series through injury, while Harbhajan has been granted leave to attend a family wedding.
Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh are also missing from the squad with injuries and their omission has opened the doors for the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Dinesh Karthik and Praveen Kumar. Virender Sehwag has replaced teammate Gambhir at the top of the ICC rankings for Test batsmen following his two centuries against South Africa in their recent Test series. Sehwag, who scored a century in the opening Test in Nagpur, moved up five places to take top spot for the first time after his 165 earlier this week in Kolkata helped India win the final Test.
Amla, who scored a century for South Africa in each of his three Test innings in the two Tests in India, moved up eight places to second spot. And Dale Steyn, the South Africa fast bowler, retained his place at the top of the Test bowling rankings. firstname.lastname@example.org India v South Africa, 1pm, Neo Sports