An analysis of how Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have combined to take 21 of the 28 South Africa wickets in the ODI series so far
India only need one more win to seal the one-day series against South Africa and they have three matches to do it. Ideally, they would like to finish it off in Johannesburg and allow themselves some room for experimentation in the final two games.
While the history of the last five years says South Africa don’t lose in pink, the history of the last nine days says they can’t win against wristspin and India’s intention will be to reinforce that.
It’s almost as though there’s no talking point other than what will happen when Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav come on. What new ways will South Africa’s batsmen find to get out to them? Or is there a chance they may eke out a few more runs?
One man who can change that narrative is AB de Villiers. He returns to the team after recovering from a finger injury and though he is neither captain nor wicketkeeper, he will have to be the person to raise morale. South Africa could fall into the trap of relying on de Villiers a bit too much, something they have accused India of doing with Virat Kohli. At least in India’s case, it’s paid off.
Kohli’s two hundreds in the series so far has India high on confidence but there may still be some issues they’d want to address. The middle-order fell away slightly in Cape Town and, at a venue where big totals can be posted, they will want everyone firing.
South Africa: LLLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
South Africa’s best hope of countering the spin threat lies in AB de Villiers who has owned the Wanderers when it comes to white-ball cricket. He averages 100.85 from 11 matches at this ground and has scored two of his three hundreds there when playing in pink, including the fastest century in ODI history.
While Virat Kohli has been the key of the Indian batting line-up and Shikhar Dhawan has started to find his touch, Rohit Sharma is still floundering and has yet to make a half-century on this tour. His top-score is 47 in the second innings of the Centurion Test and he has not got past 20 in any of the three ODIs. Run-scoring is hardly an issue for India at the moment but it may become one for Rohit soon.
De Villiers missed the first three games with a finger injury but has been declared fit and available to play. South Africa may also call on Farhaan Behardien which could push one of David Miller or Khaya Zondo out of the XI. If experience is what’s needed to stabilise the side, Morne Morkel may also return.
South Africa (probable): 1 Hashim Amla 2 Aiden Markram (capt) 3 JP Duminy, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Farhaan Behardien 6 David Miller/Khaya Zondo, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel 11 Imran Tahir
India didn’t make any changes from Durban to Centurion or Centurion to Cape Town after concluding that there was no need to mess with a winning combination. They’re still winning, so it’s likely they will be unchanged as they seek the series win.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Pitch and conditions
Bethuel Buthelezi cannot afford to put a foot wrong for the next five years after his Test pitch was rated poor by the ICC, so he will want to start getting into the officials’ good books soon. Typically, the Wanderers produces high-scoring ODI surfaces and this should be no different. Scattered showers are forecast in the evening but that won’t dampen the spirits of the Johannesburg faithful. The Wanderers is a sellout for this match, which means this will be the biggest crowd of the series with 33,000 people expected to pack in.
Stats and trivia
South Africa have played five ODIs in pink and are undefeated in their change strip. That includes a match against India in December 2013, which they won by 141 runs.
India’s wristspinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, have taken 21 out of the 28 South African wickets that have fallen in this series at an average of 9.05. South Africa have made the pair look more dangerous here than in their own backyard. Against Australia at home, they took 13 wickets between them at an average of 29.5.
“It’s natural pressure. We’ve obviously got an unbeaten run in the Pink Day that has added a little bit of pressure which is cool. Obviously it’s do or die for us now. If we lose one more, that’s the series gone. So we’ll be fighting for every single ball, every single run out there. Yeah, lot of pressure but what’s cricket without pressure? It’s boring.”
Chris Morris tries to look at the bright side of the situation for South Africa.