Ed Hawkins previews Friday's contest in Dharamsala and asks whether the hosts have inadvertently assisted the visitors with the venue selection...
"If this were an IPL match would a side with Dhoni, Kohli, Raina and Rohit be as skinny when taking on AB De Villiers, Du Plessis, Duminy and Miller?"
India v South Africa
Start time: 14.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
India are once again led by MS Dhoni, whose break from the game should see him refreshed. Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, other members of India's Most Vaunted, are included in the squad.
It is a spin-heavy group. Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Axar Patel are listed and there is concern that they are a pace bowler short.
Bhuv Kumar and Mohit Sharma are much admired but the only other pacer in the squad is Sreenath Aravind, who at 31 could debut. Stuart Binny is probably a certain starter in the XI.
South Africa lost their warm-up match against India A in Delhi. There was nothing wrong with the batting - JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis both shone with 42 and 88 respectively - but the bowlers couldn't defend 190.
Seamers Kyle Abbot, Kagiso Rabada, Marchant De Lange and Chris Morris took only one wicket between them as the hosts won by eight wickets. With no Dale Steyn someone needs to step up.
That man could be Albie Morkel who has received an unexpected call up after David Wiese fractured a hand.
There have been only two ODIs played at Dharamsala - England's seven-wicket win against India in 2013 and the home nation's 59-run win against West Indies in October 2014 when they posted 330.
Against England India were bowled out for 226 with Tim Bresnan (four wickets) and Steven Finn (two) doing the damage. That suggested the pitch favours pace as it is 1,317 meters above sea level, open to the elements and allowing a breeze to blow across the ground.
But the India-West Indies contest was bat-dominated. In IPL the same was true. Since it was introduced as a venue in 2010 it has produced first-innings scores of: 171-183-120-141-170-232-198-174-192. That is an average of 176.
India are 1.774/5 to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. South Africa are 2.226/5. There are a host of IPL players on show of course. So we wonder if this were an IPL match whether a side with Dhoni, Kohli, Raina and Rohit would be as skinny when taking on AB De Villiers, Du Plessis, Duminy and David Miller?
But maybe that's not the right question. The key is whether India have picked the correct squad for the pitch conditions in Dharmsala?
There hasn't been a lot for spinners in the wicket and Du Plessis has already expressed surprise that they are kicking off on a surface which should suit his bowlers.
"Dharamsala has a nice wicket with good pace and bounce," he said. "We would be looking to use those conditions with our quick bowlers."
That doesn't mean South Africa should be favourites but it certainly means any gulf should be reduced. We're quite happy to take on India here.
South Africa can match India in terms of batting skill - remember this is a short format and you don't need a plethora of hitters - and they may only lag a little with the ball.
Top India runscorer
Some decent ground form here. Dhoni smashed a 29-ball 54 for Chennai against Kings XI in 2010 and Raina was also in the runs. Rohit has a 50 on the ground for Deccan. There is 0.2 points from 3.1085/40 Rohit and Kohli to Ajinkja Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan.
Top South Africa runscorer
De Villiers opened the batting in the warm-up so it is no surprise to see him as short as 3.02/1. That could never be considered value, though. Hashim Amla at 4.03/1 represents better value. For Miller this is a home game. He has played there twice for Punjab and has scored rapidly in one of those games.
Back South Africa at 2.226/5
Ed Hawkins P/L
To £10 level stakes (unless otherwise stated), based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate.
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