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After a 3-0 drubbing in New Zealand, India are back to their comfort zone, playing in home conditions. Over the last few years, India have a terrific record of playing at home and that should help them heal the bruises they suffered against New Zealand. South Africa, on the other hand, have been in terrific touch and are coming off a 3-0 win over the Aussies. Still, the assigment of playing in India will be tough for them as adapting to the conditions so quickly will be a challenge. The first match of the three match series between the two sides is to be played at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Cricket Ground, Dharamsala on 12th March.
While India weren't playing with a truly depleted side against the Kiwis, one could argue that they weren't playing at their full-strength either. With Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Hardik Pandya back in the squad, this India unit looks as dangerous as it looked a couple of months ago. However, Rohit Sharma is still out injured and Mayank Agarwal is likely to slot in the top along with Shikhar Dhawan.
Ravindra Jadeja was brilliant in the away conditions, which were excellent for the seam bowlers, and he is likely to be even for effective on Indian soil. That, however, leaves India with a bitter-sweet problem to pick between Jadeja and Pandya. We might see India pick both of them and leave the number six out, but that might leave India with a long tail.
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South Africa have had a rollercoaster ride over the last couple of months, but they finally seem to be picking up pace. A 3-0 win against Australia would have imbibed them with plenty of confidence and they will be raring to go against this out-of-form Indian unit.
Against the Aussies, the Proteas were fantastic in all departments of the game. The change of management seems to have worked wonders for them and this series against India would be a big test for the Proteas. On paper, they have a very talented batting unit, although it is a bit inexperienced. The return of Faf du Plessis is going to provide them with a bit of comfort in the top-order, something which they seemed to be lacking against the Aussies. Their middle-order, with Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller in superb form, looks as good as ever. With bowling doing fine as well, beating South Africa isn't going to be as trivial as it appeared to be a couple of months ago.
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Dharamsala would be the best possible venue that the Proteas would have hoped to begin this tour with. Dharamsala's conditions will be more like home for the Proteas and they aren't likely to feel much difference. Having said that, Indians are still more well-versed with the conditions here than any other side in world cricket and beating them is going to be a challenge. With most of their stars back in the lineup, India appears to be a stronger unit, and therefore, go in as firm favorites in the first match of the series.
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