Middle-order batsman Khaya Zondo was called up to South Africa's One-Day International squad for the first time in more than two years as the selectors named a 15-man unit for the first three matches of the India series. Zondo toured India in 2015 as part of the squad that won the one-day series 3-2, but controversially did not play a single game.

The 27-year-old will now be given an opportunity to show his skills on the international scene as South Africa cast a wide net for players ahead of next year's World Cup - fast bowler Lungi Ngidi is also in line to make his one-day debut. Selection convenor Linda Zondi confirmed the plan to use the six-match series against India and the away series in Sri Lanka later this year to identify the players who will attempt to win South Africa's first World Cup when the tournament takes place in England.

"We are starting our vision 2019: which are the players we are looking for and the roles we are looking at? There are key players that have done well in the franchise level. (Zondo) has done well at franchise level for four years. We basically know what he can offer. It is important for us to increase that pool and give opportunity so that we know by the time it comes to late this year, we don't have to be clouded by certain players that we feel they deserve a chance. This is a holistic approach in terms of giving opportunity," he said on Thursday (January 25).

The main omission from the squad was batsman Farhaan Behardien, who has been a regular member of South Africa's limited-overs squads and has 364 runs from nine matches in the current Momentum One-Day Cup at an average of 52. Zondi said that this owed more to the selectors knowing what Behardien has to offer, and that there would be more opportunities for his ilk in the last three matches of the series.

"We more or less know what our staring XI is. It's important that the guys who are in the squad and won't be playing get opportunity in terms of understanding our culture and being around the guys. After the third match, regardless of whether the series is won or lost, we will give opportunity. We are not saying Behardien won't be given opportunity. After the third match, we will decide which guys we need to rest and which guys we will be rotating. Some guys we know where we are with them."



Although Zondo has not had the best Momentum One-Day Cup, scoring 263 runs at 43.83, he has been a consistent performer in domestic one-day cricket. In 54 List A games from the beginning of the 2014-15 season he has scored 1886 runs at an average of 47.15, with one hundred and eight fifties.

However, his treatment in India raised concern among some black players, who subsequently wrote a letter to Cricket South Africa questioning whether they were simply being used to raise the number in squads. Zondo was picked in the original squad for the India tour, but did not get an opportunity even after JP Duminy was injured midway through the series. Duminy's replacement in the squad, Dean Elgar, played instead. The saga came just months after Aaron Phangiso carried drinks throughout the 2015 World Cup without making an appearance, even in a dead rubber game against the United Arab Emirates.

The CSA board have subsequently put targets in place for selection at national level, ensuring that an average number of black and black African players make it onto the field.

While Zondi said that Imran Tahir remains South Africa's first-choice spinner, left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi has been recalled on the back of his strong Momentum One-Day Cup campaign. Shamsi is currently the leading wicket-taker in the competition, having taken 26 wickets at less than 15 apiece. "There are a couple of spinners we need to look at," said Zondi. "Keshav Maharaj is another. He bowls and he bats, he is a good fielder. Let's see what Shamsi can bring to the table and we also need to see how we can bring Maharaj in."

Chris Morris and Morne Morkel also return to the squad after missing the series against Bangladesh through injury, but fellow fast bowler Dale Steyn is unlikely to feature. Steyn is recovering from a heel injury picked up in the first Test at Newlands, and is focusing on a comeback during the four-Test series against Australia that starts on March 1.

"For now, the main focus is let's see how Dale Steyn does in the Tests, and then he needs to go back to the franchise and see where he is with the white ball. I am quite comfortable with the manner that he performed when he came back. This is a different injury but I am very optimistic. He is part and parcel of this vision. Do we go with Dale Steyn, do we go with Lungi?"

Squad for first-three ODIs: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo