Proteas

Proteas must choose: Markram or Zondo to replace AB?

2018-01-31 09:16
Aiden Markram (Gallo)

Cape Town - AB de Villiers' finger injury has made things interesting from a team selection point of view heading into the first ODI against India in Durban. 

With De Villiers ruled out of the first three ODIs in the series, the door is open for somebody else to step in and put his hand up. 

The Proteas opted not to replace De Villiers, meaning that one of Aiden Markram or Khaya Zondo is likely to get the nod on Thursday. 

Selection convenor Linda Zondi said during the third Test in Johannesburg that the ODI series, and indeed the ODI year as a whole, would have an element of experimentation to it as the Proteas look for their best combinations ahead of the 2019 World Cup. 

Despite his current lack of firm, Quinton de Kock will be backed as South Africa's opening batsman and you would expect that to remain the case until 2019. He is completely out of touch now, but when he gets back onto flat wickets he will thrive. De Kock is a confidence player and always seems one knock away from finding his best touch. That is likely to happen in this ODI series, which is good news for the Proteas in all three formats. 

At the other end, Hashim Amla's partnership with De Kock gives the Proteas one of the most dangerous opening pairs in ODI cricket. If all goes well, that will be the way they go in 2019. 

Skipper Faf du Plessis backs himself at No 3, and when De Villiers is fit again he will likely come in at No 4. 

But with De Villiers out now, Markram will be hoping for another crack to prove his worth on the limited overs stage. 

In tough batting conditions, the 23-year-old discovered just how difficult Test cricket can be when he scored single figures in four of his six knocks against India. In his only ODI to date, Markram scored 66 against Bangladesh late last year batting at No 4. 

He is tipped as a future Proteas captain and, already, he has made an impact on the international stage. Getting Markram into the ODI set-up as soon as possible is not a bad call, and with De Villiers out this could be the perfect opportunity. 

Zondo, though, will have other ideas. 

The Dolphins skipper was called up to the Proteas ODI squad for a tour of India in 2015, but he sat on the side-lines throughout that series without being given a cap. 

Since then, he has performed with relative consistency on the domestic scene. In this year's One Day Cup he has scored 275 runs at an average of 39.28. His strike rate of 65.63, though, is concerning. 

JP Duminy and David Miller are the other experienced batsmen likely to complete the top order, and both of those players will be hoping for runs against India to solidify their places in this Proteas team. 

Temba Bavuma would have likely come into the picture in discussing De Villiers' replacement, but he is still side-lined with a hand injury of his own. 

The top six in South Africa's final game of the Champions Trophy against India last year read: De Kock, Amla, Du Plessis, De Villiers, Miller, Duminy. 

At this stage, that top order is probably still favoured to be in tact come 2019. But, without De Villiers, there is an opportunity for somebody else to throw their name into the hat. 

The first ODI in Durban starts at 13:00 in Durban on Thursday.

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