Your essential guide to the third ODI between the Proteas and India in Cape Town.
What’s next for the Proteas? Dethroned from the No 1 spot on the ODI rankings, losing Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock to injury and trailing 2-0 in the series, it can’t get worse, right?
The rotation system has become a replacement policy as South Africa have been forced into wholesale changes for the rest of the series. Ottis Gibson faces his toughest team selection yet, having to pick an XI from players he has had little time to work with and assess.
Aiden Markram, who is the third-least experienced captain to have led an ODI side, will have a daunting task to skipper a second-string Proteas outfit, against the now No 1-ranked side.
India are strong favourites to win the third ODI, having found a settled side equipped for any conditions.
Cape Town is suffering from level 6B water restrictions, which means a daily limit of 50 litres or less per person whether at home, work, school or elsewhere. The groundsmen will have a tough time preparing the pitch and with a high of 30 degrees expected, the Newlands turf is likely to dry out at a drastic rate. The wicket should aid the batsmen, which the Proteas desperately need, to give their top order some confidence.
Players to Watch:
Hashim Amla’s role in the side is now critical. Losing his opening partner means that he is the sole protector of a fragile and inexperienced middle order. David Miller is a specialist at building on a good foundation, but if the top order fails to fire, it will make life difficult for the Proteas’ big hitters. JP Duminy’s international form has been woeful, so expecting him to marshal the middle order in light of a top-order collapse is optimistic. That said, the Proteas’ best chance to salvage a victory is for Amla to bat through the innings.
For India, the second ODI could have easily been a 10-wicket win if it wasn’t for Rohit Sharma losing his wicket. The opener has the luxury of knowing that Virat Kohli is next in, allowing him to play his natural attacking game. Unfortunately, it’s been a low-scoring series for Sharma so far, scoring 20 in the first ODI and 15 in the second. His place could be in jeopardy considering the depth in the India squad, with Lokesh Rahul knocking on the door as a potential replacement.
Heinrich Klaasen must replace De Kock. The Titans wicketkeeper-batsman would come in high on confidence after finishing third on the One-Day Cup run-scoring list with 522 runs, at an average of 52.2 and a best of 91*. He is the logical replacement, but not as an opener. As captain, Markram should take the responsibility to shift up into his natural position. Klaasen should slot up one position higher than what he is used to for the Titans, and come in at No 3 while Khaya Zondo should be at No 4.
South Africa must play to their strengths and abandon the two-spinners strategy. Lungi Ngidi should receive his ODI debut to add more pace and aggression to the Proteas’ bowling attack.
South Africa: 1) Hashim Amla, 2) Aiden Markram, 3) Heinrich Klaasen, 4) Khaya Zondo 5) JP Duminy, 6) David Miller, 7) Chris Morris, 8) Kagiso Rabada, 9) Morne Morkel, 10) Lungi Ngidi, 11) Imran Tahir
India: 1) Rohit Sharma, 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
– Three matches have been played between the Proteas and India at Newlands. South Africa won in 1992 and 2006, but India won the last encounter by two wickets in 2011.
– The highest score on the ground was 367-5 by South Africa against Sri Lanka on 7 February 2017.
– The lowest total at Newlands was Pakistan’s 43 against the West Indies in 1993.
– The lowest total involving South Africa was the West Indies’ 54 against South Africa in 2004.
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Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images