The result of the fourth One-Day International of the series between India and South Africa at Johannesburg would be seen from contrasting lenses by both teams.
The visiting side, India, would not be losing sleep over the five-wicket defeat on an evening that saw the match being interrupted a couple of times by lightning and rain. The loss was more like an unforeseen speed bump in what has been a smooth ride over the last three weeks for Virat Kohli and his troops in South Africa.
From Proteas’ perspective, however, the win comes as a breath of fresh air. They have also been boosted by the return of their talismanic batsman, AB de Villiers. The home side would like to believe, after chasing down the reduced target of 202, the all-important momentum is in their favour. Something they would carry to St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth for the fifth ODI.
The pressure of losing the series, though, continues to weigh down on the hosts with the series (3-1) very much tilted in India’s favour. South Africa will be fighting once again to keep the series alive and Port Elizabeth presents them with a good opportunity as India have never tasted victory at the venue, having lost all four of their previous encounters. Worse still, India have never managed to score more than 200 at St George’s Park.
India have a chance to celebrate their first-ever bilateral series triumph in South Africa with a maiden victory in the Eastern Province ground.
With skipper Virat Kohli and Delhi mate Shikhar Dhawan in rollicking form, the Indian supporters would love to see some runs flow off struggling opener Rohit Sharma’s bat. One of the prime reasons for India’s success in ODIs is due to the truckload of runs scored by the Kohlis, Sharmas and the Dhawans. On the flip side, they have been concealing India’s middle-order frailties, which is bound to get exposed every once in a while, like it did at the Wanderers.
While the first 30 overs yielded 173 runs for the loss of one wicket for India, they could procure only 116 runs for the loss of six wickets in the last 20 overs.
Ajinkya Rahane started the series with a brilliant 79, but a couple of poor shot selections in the third and fourth ODIs, have led to the extension of the No 4 debate. Lower down the order, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya also failed to provide the impetus required after Dhawan’s century. While Dhoni did hang around till the very end, but the innings lacked big hits. His 43-ball 42 could not take India pass the 300-run mark.
The pace bowlers might well have dominated the Test series, but it is the Indian wrist spinning duo of – Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav – that have mystified the South African batsmen with their variations and guile.
Out of the 48 wickets that have been picked up by the bowlers, 25 have fallen to wrist-spin of which 24 is equally shared by Chahal and Kuldeep.
However, South African all-rounder, Andile Phehlukwayo, who provided the finishing act in the previous game with an unbeaten 5-ball 23, believes the Proteas have the measure of the two Indian spinners.rub of the green
"We have a good momentum now from the last game we played. We have come really far that victory because the guys have been working really hard in the nets and we have been very specific about our training (against spin)," said Phehlukwayo.
"(In the last game) We were looking to be positive. We got into good positions and tried to pick the ball, watch the ball and played really straight," he added.
Batsmen will have to work for their runs at St George’s Park, where the surface is known to be on the slower side and it is likely to assist the spinners and the grass covering on the wicket will aide bounce. Showers are predicted in the day and the chances of the game being affected by it remain high.
Captains will have to be extremely careful in their decision-making at the toss and the weather also makes the selection slightly tricky for South Africa, with a move to bring Chinaman Tabraiz Shamsi back into the XI being pondered.
India will back themselves to seal the ODI series before heading to Centurion for the last fixture, while South Africa will be carrying some of the pink in their pockets from the last game to have some rub of the green.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram (c), JP Duminy, AB de Villiers, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir/Tabraiz Shamsi
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal