Five talking points ahead of the fourth One-Day International between India and South Africa in Chennai on Thursday.
Proteas on brink of history
South Africa have never won an ODI series against India in India. They are 2-1 up in this five-match series and it would be surprising if they fail to win at least one more game. They won’t want to risk going into the final match all square though; AB de Villiers and his men must do everything in their power to win the ODI series. They have already secured the T20 series and going into the Tests with two series wins under their belt will be a massive confidence booster.
Who replaces JP Duminy?
Duminy is out for the rest of the series with a laceration on his hand, and coach Russell Domingo has admitted that Duminy’s absence is a massive blow. Dean Elgar has been flown over as a replacement and it wouldn’t be surprising if Elgar slotted straight into the starting XI on Thursday. ‘Dean is going to be joining the Test squad so it’s an opportunity for him to acclimatise to the conditions,’ Domingo said of Elgar. ‘Secondly, he has done well domestically, he came here with South Africa A and did really well in India. He also offers us some left-arm spin which is something we don’t have besides Phangiso who is competing with Imran [Tahir]. He is a mature cricketer, he averages nearly 40 in domestic one-day cricket so he brings a lot of experience with him.’ That is a pretty good case for including Elgar, but it will raise questions over why a specialist batsman like Khaya Zondo, who is part of the squad, is overlooked. The importance of the match might sway the decision in favour of Elgar, but he only arrived in India on Wednesday morning. Chris Morris is the other option, but that might mean that David Miller is moved back down the order. Tough call.
Amla needs to come good
South Africa need a big contribution from Hashim Amla on this tour, and so far he hasn’t delivered. He is due a big innings and it will suit South Africa perfectly if that innings arrives over the next two games. Amla will in all likelihood bat N0 3 for the remainder of the series, but it shouldn’t be a problem and is barely an adjustment from opening the batting. Amla is 22 runs away from being the fastest to 6000 ODI runs and is expected to reach the milestone on Thursday. Hopefully for the Proteas it will be part of a match-winning innings.
Better at the death
India are under serious pressure not to lose the next game and thereby the series, which will be their second successive ODI series loss. They have struggled to be dominant in the final 10 overs and will need a better batting performance towards the end if they want to win this game. They have lacked aggression down the order and there will be serious pressure on Suresh Raina to come good. He has only scored three runs in this series so far and hasn’t scored a fifty since the World Cup.
South Africa need to capitalise on a good start
It’s something they failed to do in the last game when Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis laid a great platform for AB de Villiers to come in at N0 5 and dominate the last 15 overs, but De Villiers didn’t come off and South Africa fell short of a total they would have been more comfortable with. They can’t count on De Villiers in every game, but someone needs to take control at the death and hit the boundaries. If De Villiers comes in at N0 5 he is ideally suited for that, but if it isn’t him someone else needs to step up. Losing three wickets in quick succession after a good start is something no team can afford to do because it can lose you a game.