Former India captain Virender Sehwag said on Wednesday (January 31) that Virat Kohli-led Team India will be benefited by the presence of MS Dhoni in the ODI team when they take on South Africa in a six-match series, starting Thursday, February 1 in Durban.
Sehwag also opined that India need to start the series well if they are clinch an unprecedented series win in the "Rainbow Nation".
Notably, India are heading into the ODI series after losing a three-match Test rubber 2-1. Debatable selection calls and lack of preparation time were seen as the major reasons for the world number one Test side's below-par performances in the longest format.
However, Kohli's men made a strong comeback by winning the third and final Test of the series in Johannesburg. Pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who are also in the 17-member ODI squad, orchestrated the famous win with five-wicket hauls.
India are now looking to avenge their Test defeat in the 50-over format against the world number one ODI side. Notably, the Asian giants have lost all seven ODI series, including a couple of tri-series, they have played in South Africa. A Dhoni-led side was demolished 2-0 in a three-match rubber, which was also the last time India toured the African nation.
"In ODI cricket, Kohli also has MS Dhoni, who is always there to point out his flaws unlike in Test cricket. You will see Dhoni giving suggestions to Kohli, you will see him set the field... this is definitely a benefit," Sehwag told India TV.
He added: "It is very important to win the first match because it gives you the right momentum for the rest of the series. If you lose the first match, you are under pressure. If India play like they did in Johannesburg, they might create history."
Dhoni has helped Kohli ease into the role of limited-overs captain since stepping down from the high-profile role last year. Be it field changes or on-field decision making, including a few Decision Review System (DRS) calls), the veteran wicketkeeper has always been spotted helping out the Indian skipper.
'Great news from the Indian perspective'
Meanwhile, India have not beaten South Africa at the Kingsmead in seven attempts since the first ODI at the iconic venue in December 1992.
However, AB de Villiers's absence will give India the upper hand, according to Sehwag. Notably, the South African batting star has been ruled out of the first three ODIs due to a finger injury he suffered during the Johannesburg Test.
"This is great news from the Indian perspective that AB de Villiers will not play the first three ODIs because he is one such player who can change the course of the game anytime. India have a good chance to capitalise on this and win at least two of the first three matches," Sehwag said.
"Durban has always been a challenging wicket for India. The onus will be on openers - Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. They need to give a good start to the team and set a platform for the middle order," he added.