Cape Town — Onward and upward. To the stars as far as South Africa are concerned after the most demanding of Test series.
The primary objective at the start of the summer would have been to keep Virat Kohli and his Indian Test side at bay.
That mission has now been completed with the preservation of the Test record intact and Kohli the biggest casualty after he relinquished the leadership reins last weekend.
Now it’s the chance of Temba Bavuma and his green-clad army to complete the job in the three-match ODI series, starting here at Boland Park on Wednesday.
This could arguably be an even tougher assignment after India – under Kohli – humbled the Proteas 5-1 the last time these two teams met on South African soil back in 2017.
"We're not expecting this ODI series to be easy. We know it's going to be tough, especially considering the Test series," Bavuma said.
"But I do think momentum is a real thing. Obviously it’s a different format, different skill-set, different type of pressure. I do though think that from a momentum, confidence point of view within the team, and we’ll be relying on that to help inspire the other new guys and get us through the challengers and pressures that we will be facing over the next three games.”
One of the “new” players will, of course, be Quinton de Kock returning to the fold after retiring from Test cricket after the series opener at SuperSport Park.
Bavuma has welcomed De Kock back with open arms, and confirmed that the blossoming ODI opening partnership with Janneman Malan will be maintained with the in-form skipper coming in at first drop instead after missing the last series against Sri Lanka.
"Quinton and Janneman have done fairly well so I don't see that changing. I come back into the picture at No.3," he said. "The Test series went quite well for the team but for me personally, my feet seemed to move well and I was hitting the ball quite well. I'd like to carry on with that feeling.
"People have asked me if there's anything I've changed or done differently and to be honest no, I've been doing things the same. Maybe it's just a period of good form."
De Kock’s return has, though, been equalised through the resting of Kagiso Rabada for the one-dayers. After regaining some of his long lost form, and more importantly hunger for battle, Rabada will put his feet up until the team departs for New Zealand in a couple of weeks time.
Spin-bowling all-rounder George Linde has instead been retained from the Test squad, which could give Bavuma a couple more options to consider in the middle-order, especially with the Boland Park pitch expected to bake under the searing Paarl sun.
"It's probably more the middle order, whether we want to go with an extra batter or an all-rounder at No 6," he said. "As a captain, you always like to have as many resources as you can from a bowling front.
"You accept that one bowler isn't going to hit his straps on the day, so to be able to have an adequate replacement for him is a luxury. It's something we still need to settle on but I would like to have as many options as I can. That's the real conversation that needs to happen."
LIKELY 1ST ODI LINE-UPS FOR BOLAND PARK
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wk), Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen David Miller, Wayne Parnell/Marco Jansen, Andile Phehlulwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi.
India: KL Rahul (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Chahar, , R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Start: 10:30am; TV: SuperSport, Sabc3