India’s indomitable cricket team looks set for a landmark series triumph but an injury-ravaged South Africa would hope for some A.B. de Villiers magic to halt the visitors’ charge in the fourth one-dayer, in Johannesburg on Saturday.
With an unassailable 3-0 lead in hand, India needs just one more win to claim its maiden ODI series triumph on the South African soil.
The closest India came was in 2010-11, when under M.S. Dhoni, it shot into a 2-1 lead only to lose the five- match series 3-2.
India had, on Wednesday, broken into unchartered territory at Newlands when, for the first time since it began touring here in 1992-93, it won three matches in a bilateral ODIs in South Africa.
A fourth consecutive win will also cement its spot as the No. 1 side in ICC ODI rankings.
In the third match, Virat Kohli lifted his side to another dominant win with an immaculate 34th century in this format and later spoke of replicating the same intensity to wrap up the series with two matches remaining.
The fact that Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have now accounted for 21 out of 30 available wickets is also a driving force behind this confidence.
Despite practising with at least five different local wrist-spinners at Newlands, the Proteas’ batting line-up still couldn’t contend with India’s first-choice spin duo. Whether this will change on Saturday remains to be seen.
South Africa may have slight cause for optimism as de Villiers was, on Thursday, added to its squad for the remaining three matches.
The star batsman was ruled out of the first three ODIs owing to a finger injury he had sustained during the third Test.
However, the hosts are still circumspect about his chances of playing, and as such, Cricket South Africa didn’t send out any official media information ahead of this game.
If he is fit and available, it is expected that de Villiers will bat at No. 3 with J-P. Duminy dropping down to 4. One of David Miller or Khaya Zondo will make way for him in the playing eleven.
Unsurprisingly, despite the downturn, Aiden Markram will continue to lead the side.
This match is of vital importance for South Africa. It is the ‘Pink ODI’ played for the awareness against breast cancer and for the benefit of those suffering from the disease.
It was first held in 2011, and this will be the sixth such occasion. In fact, the Proteas have never lost when playing in their unique pink jersey.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Aiden Markram (capt), Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), AB de Villiers.
Match starts at: 4:30pm IST.