Will the return of AB de Villiers be enough for the Proteas to beat India in the fourth ODI at the Wanderers on Saturday?
The hosts have been outclassed in every department in this ODI series, particularly by India’s wrist-spinners. The Proteas batsmen had no plan to counter or withstand them. After three ODIs, enough intel should have been gathered, and a game plan comprised to help the Proteas cope with spin. Twenty-one of the 27 wickets taken by India’s bowlers were courtesy of wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (11) and Kuldeep Yadav (10).
The Proteas have not lost a ‘pink ODI’, which raise awareness for breast cancer, in six matches. The pink Proteas’ gear was made famous when De Villiers struck 149 off 44 balls in 2015 against the West Indies. His 100 came off 31 balls and remains the fastest in ODI history.
India won’t be distracted by the occasion, and will be fully focused on winning the series and solidifying their position at the top of the ODI rankings. The Proteas only need two wins in the series to retake the No 1 ranking.
There is a predicted 50% chance of rain on Saturday in the late afternoon, but sunny conditions are expected throughout the match. However, the overcast conditions will offer more for the seamers.
The Wanderers pitch was rated ‘poor’ by the ICC after the third Test between the Proteas and India. This means the groundsmen are in the spotlight and will be expected to prepare a typical Wanderers batting track.
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Without a doubt, AB de Villiers‘ return will steal the headlines. Coming back from an injury, the 33-year-old will be expected to save the series for the Proteas. His record at the Bullring speaks for itself. In 11 matches, he has an average of 100.85, which includes three centuries. He is 13 runs behind Herschelle Gibbs, who is the top-scorer at the ground with 719 in 17 matches. De Villiers’ ability as a player is obvious, but his importance in the game will be judged by how his presence lifts the confidence of the team. It’s not a one-man game, but one man can change the momentum of a match.
Chahal and Yadav are the leading wicket-takers after three matches. They have hassled the Proteas throughout the series and will continue to do so. Their battle with De Villiers, who is comfortable with playing spin, will be crucial to their side’s success. His scalp will be a prized objective for India.
De Villiers will not take the wicketkeeper duties, which means Heinrich Klaasen should hold on to his position with Khaya Zondo losing his. Farhaan Behardien is also an option if the Proteas aim to deepen the batting lineup. Morne Morkel must come back into the side.
South Africa: 1. Hashim Amla, 2. Aiden Markram, 3. AB de Villiers, 4. Heinrich Klaasen, 5. JP Duminy, 6. David Miller, 7. Chris Morris, 8. Andile Phehlukwayo, 9. Kagiso Rabada, 10. Morne Morkel, 11. Imran Tahir.
India should make one change and drop Rohit Sharma for Lokesh Rahul.
India: 1. Lokesh Rahul, 2. Shikhar Dhawan, 3. Virat Kohli (capt.), 4. Ajinkya Rahane, 5. MS Dhoni (wk), 6. Kedar Jadhav, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9. Kuldeep Yadav, 10. Jasprit Bumrah, 11. Yuzvendra Chahal.
– The highest score on the ground is South Africa’s 439-2 against the West Indies in 2015.
– De Villiers needs 14 runs to become the highest run-scorer on the ground.
– South Africa have played India four times at the Wanderers; they won three and lost one.
Chris Morris: ‘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. Yes, there’s lot of pressure, but what’s cricket without pressure? It’s boring.’
Bharat Arun, India bowling coach: ‘It’s huge. If I am right, no other team [India] has come to South Africa and won a one-day series. To us, we are on the brink of it, if we do it, it will be really huge. There is always a first time and we hope this is it.’
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images