South Africa v West Indies preview: Maharaj injured as De Kock eyes milestone
South Africa will look to maintain their ODI momentum ahead of the Cricket World Cup, but they are set to contend with key injuries as they take on West Indies in a three-match 50-over series, which starts on Thursday.
The Proteas wrapped up a convincing 2-0 Test series win against West Indies earlier in the month, having beaten world champions England 2-1 in an ODI series before that.
While Shukri Conrad has already taken charge of the Test side, this latest series will be the first for new white-ball coach Rob Walter having completed his term with New Zealand's Central Stags.
Walter will be without important players, however, after Keshav Maharaj ruptured his left Achilles in the Test series. Wiaan Mulder is also unavailable with a left side strain, with Tabraiz Shamsi and Wayne Parnell replacing the pair.
South Africa will be favourites given their form, but all-rounder Bjorn Fortuin is certain his side will take nothing for granted when they face off in the first ODI against West Indies since the 2019 World Cup.
"We are going to need to be at our best in all three aspects of the game to beat them, and that's what we are working towards," Fortuin said.
"They are a dangerous side on all fronts, whether with the ball or bat. We know they are supreme athletes on the field.
"The boys are coming off a successful Test series, and we will be looking to build on that and build some momentum."
West Indies have also made leadership changes prior to the series, with Shai Hope taking over the captaincy from Nicholas Pooran.
Pooran remains in the side and will look to form a key part of the middle order alongside Roston Chase and Shamarh Brook.
Interim coach Andre Coley's side have won just one of their last eight ODIs and have brought in former leg-spinner Samuel Badree to serve as assistant coach as they look to improve before the World Cup in October.
De Kock chasing milestone
Quinton de Kock may no longer play Test cricket, but the wicketkeeper's supreme batting talents are still a vital cog in South Africa's limited-over successes.
The 30-year-old has played 137 ODIs and is just 99 runs away from becoming the seventh men's player to score 6,000 runs for South Africa in the format.
If he reaches the milestone in his first match of the series, De Kock will become the third-fastest player overall to that mark in the history of ODIs, behind only Hashim Amla and Virat Kohli.
West Indies' ambitions rest on Hope
New skipper Hope has been a bright spark in an otherwise drab period for West Indies in ODI cricket.
The Windies will be relying on his top-order exploits as they look to turn around their form, with his average of 49 in men's ODIs the best of any batsman to play at least six innings for West Indies.