New Delhi: Ahead of the first One-Day International (ODI) against South Africa, Indian captain has said that conditions make Ajinkya Rahane a strong candidate for batting at number four. India take on South Africa in the first of the six-match ODI series in Durban on Thursday (February 01).Also Read - Virat Kohli to Step Down as RCB Captain After IPL 2021

“We have explored many options in the last few months. We don’t have too many series and too much time left before the World Cup, so we want to explore all the options before the World Cup,” Kohli told reporters here today. 

India vs South Africa ODI Series: Chance For India to Clinch ODI Top Spot

India vs South Africa ODI Series: Chance For India to Clinch ODI Top Spot

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“I had said earlier that Ajinkya Rahane would be looked at as a third opener but that situation can change because he has batted at No. 4 in a World Cup (in 2015) before. These conditions are such that you get to play fast bowling throughout the innings so he becomes a strong candidate for No. 4. Also Read - IPL 2021: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore Preview

“Other than him we have Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey. We don’t want to be one-dimensional. It depends whose technique is more suited to what spot especially in that particular country. All options are open,” he said further.
The rest of the batting order is more or less sorted, said Kohli.

“Although the lower middle order is more or less sorted, the middle order is something we are still looking at. The combination is working well for us with Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni rotating and batting together.

“No. 4 is something we have experimented with in the last couple of series. That is the only spot I can see that needs to be solidified otherwise the team looks pretty balanced,” he added.

Talking about the series, the Indian skipper said that this would be a tough assignment for India’s leg- spinners who are playing in foreign conditions for the first time.

“We are one of the few teams, or probably the only team in world cricket, to be blessed with two wrist-spinners, while Kedar Jadhav is doing the conventional job pretty well for the team. Wrist-spinners help you in any conditions in the world.

“Wrist-spinners can go for six an over but they will pick you three wickets as well, which is eventually the difference in the game,” said Kohli. 

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India have a poor ODI record in South Africa, having won only won 5 out of 27 ODIs they have played against South Africa in South Africa, have never won a bilateral series here or indeed beaten South Africa at Durban in ODI cricket.

“We obviously want to win every series that we play. Thinking of records or doing something that hasn’t been done before is not something you think of before achieving it. It just adds extra pressure, which is not needed.

“But yes, we took a lot of confidence from that last Test. As batsmen obviously, everyone is looking forward to stepping up. Like in the last Test how we believed in ourselves and ended up winning the Test. We have to carry the same belief throughout this series.”

Kohli expects the pitches to be much more batting friendly in ODIs that what was seen in the Test series.

“The wickets are going to be much better than the Test series, because of the format and this pitch looks pretty balanced I would say for a good game of cricket.”

(With PTI inputs)