CAPE TOWN – Dolphins captain Khaya Zondo is set to be the surprise inclusion in the Proteas One-Day International squad to be announced later this week.
Zondo, along with fast-bowling sensation Lungi Ngidi, are likely to be the only uncapped players for the six-match series against India.
Ngidi has, of course, played in the last two Tests for the Proteas and three T20 Internationals before.
Zondo, however, only previously toured with the Proteas to India three years ago, when AB de Villiers led the team to a memorable 3-2 ODI series win, but the right-handed batsman did not get a look-in over the course of the five matches.
In fact, Zondo’s omission for the final ODI in Mumbai caused quite a stir within South African cricket after Dean Elgar was sent a SOS after an injury to JP Duminy.
Elgar was selected straight off the plane for the series decider at the Wankhede Stadium despite Zondo having been part of the touring squad.
The fallout over Zondo’s non-selection caused a group of black African cricketers calling themselves “Black Cricketers in Unity” to send a letter to Cricket South Africa to address their concerns over their treatment in national squads, claiming they are mostly being used as drinks carriers.
Zondo’s form has been solid – without being sensational – in the Momentum One-Day Cup this season.
He’s played all eight matches for the Dolphins, scoring 217 runs at an average of 36.16 thus far.
With limited-overs specialist Duminy returning to the ODI squad and Aiden Markram set to be retained in the middle-order too, Farhaan Behardien is the batsman who will miss the India series.
Although the 34-year-old has not always looked convincing at international level, Behardien has carved out a decent career spanning 58 ODIs, where he averages 31.55 in the demanding positions of number six and seven.
Equally, Behardien has once again been one of the standout limited-overs batsmen on the domestic circuit this summer.
He averaged a mind-blowing 234 in the RamSlam T20 Challenge to spearhead the Titans to the title, while he’s also struck a further 364 runs, which includes four half-centuries, at an average of 52.00 and strike-rate of 92.85 in the ongoing One-Day Cup.
Further changes from the Proteas side that played the final game of the series against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom last October could see Cape Cobras seamer Dane Paterson miss out completely.
It was expected that Paterson would be included in the Proteas white-ball squads due to his outstanding form throughout the RamSlam and One-Day Cup with the new ball for the Cobras, and the fact that it was suggested that the country’s premier pacemen would be rested for the looming Test series against Australia.
However, Paterson is set to lose out to Ngidi and the fit-again Chris Morris after both seamers missed the Bangladesh series due to injury.
Cape Cobras batsman Temba Bavuma, who opened the batting against the Tigers with Quinton de Kock, could not be considered for the squad due to a broken finger.
Bavuma injured his finger after being bowled against it while playing for the Cobras in the One-Day Cup, and was forced to miss the final Test at the Wanderers too.
He is expected to be fit for the start of the Test series against Australia in March.