Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets ready for South Africa

As India look to start afresh in the one day international series after losing the Tests in South Africa 2-1, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s presence will definitely bolster the team especially when the chips are down.

Dhoni hit the nets on the eve of the first ODI against South Africa in Durban on Thursday and faced the faster bowlers during his batting session. The likes of Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel were also seen practicing in “full flow” on Wednesday.

Dhoni is on the verge of becoming the 12th batsman to reach the landmark of 10000 runs in ODIs. Dhoni is currently on 9898 runs and requires another 102 runs to join the elite league which has three Indian cricketers in the list.

South Africa had won their last bilateral ODI series against India in 2015. The two teams had last played an ODI in the Champions Trophy in England last year and India had triumphed there thanks to a spectacular bowling performance.

India and South Africa will square off in a six-match ODI series which concludes on February 16. That will then be followed by a three-match T20I series from February 18-24.

Such a definitive run of limited-overs’ cricket, especially in overseas conditions in South Africa and England, will allow the Indian team management to round up the squad’s core for the big tournament in 2019 and fix up certain spots which still need some work.

At the same time, the Men in Blue will be intent on winning their first-ever bilateral ODI series on South African soil.

India have previously lost 5-2 in 1992-93, 4-0 in 2006-07, 3-2 in 2010-11 and 2-0 in 2013-14. They were also part of two triangular series in 1996-97 and 2001-02, featuring Zimbabwe and Kenya respectively, but the Proteas emerged winners on both occasions.

So much so, India’s ODI record against South Africa in South Africa is heavily skewered.

In 28 meetings since 1992-93, the South Africa have won 21 matches, while India have only won five. Such a poor record will not sit well with the current team management that is intent on improving India’s all-round showing in overseas conditions.

Additionally, India have a very lop-sided ODI record at Durban. In seven ODIs against South Africa at this venue, since 1992-93, they have lost six with one no-result. India did beat England and Kenya here though, during the 2003 ODI World Cup, giving them an overall two wins in nine ODIs at Kingsmead.