Make or break for the Proteas

Plot:

How often it happens that a situation arises when the entire team has crumbled and is on the verge of losing a series at home, and then a new player grabs the opportunity in his senior’s absence and makes the difference. The entire fan base of South Africa must be hoping for this kind of miracle to happen at Cape Town on 7th February when India will face them to eradicate any possibility of them losing the series. AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis’ absence has already affected the performance of the South African team as they faced a terrible loss in the second ODI. The entire batting line-up looked clueless in front of the spinning duo – Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. The debutant Khaya Zondo was an exception to an extent as he looked like batting without any pressure, facing the spinners confidently, but he too had to depart as he tried playing a risky shot in an unfavorable situation.

What lies ahead for South Africa is the challenge to save the series with on the back of another injury setback for them. Quinton de Kock has been ruled out of the current ODI series as well as the T20 series due to the injury on his left-hand wrist. The three batsmen, who have been ever-present in the playing 11 for the Proteas are unfortunately not available for the third ODI, and this situation just might be a silver lining for the players replacing them. Given the lack of experience, Proteas need the veteran Hashim Amla to build an innings which can feed some confidence to the batsmen down the order. A similar task lies in hand for another experienced player, JP Duminy. The home team have not announced any replacement for de Kock, so Klaasen is likely to replace him in the squad. Also, batting all-rounder Farhaan Behardien might be given a chance considering the team’s batting woes. On the other hand, Team India will not disturb their winning combination, as they will be aiming to win the third match in a row. If India manages to achieve this feat, that will be the first time the Indian team will be winning three straight ODIs against South Africa in a bilateral series on South African soil. Judging by their current form, it would take a brave man to bet against them. Their batting line-up looks steady which includes a batsman who can hit a double century after a slow start, a captain who can chase down almost any target, a former captain who likes to finish the game in style. Even in the lower middle order, there’s Hardik Pandya who can start his innings with a six. There’s no scarcity of variety in the Indian batting line-up.

In the first two ODIs, Indian spinners have picked 13 wickets whereas the South African spinners haven’t opened their account. This is a major concern for the hosts as their seamers, Morkel and Rabada haven’t troubled the Indian batsmen to the extent that they must have hoped for. On the other hand, with Bhuvaneshwar and Bumrah, India are managing to get rid of the Proteas’ top order, and Chahal and Kuldeep are doing the remaining job with ease.

Stage:

Newlands, Cape Town

With the severe draught in Cape Town and no chances of showers, the situation has grown grimmer for the city. Yet, the one-day match happening in the city might come off as a reason for joy for the citizens. The pitch offers plenty of runs and the batsmen from either side should look forward to stepping in and scoring freely.

Acts:

David Miller vs Kuldeep Yadav

Scores of 7 and 0 in the first and second ODIs, and both the times he has been picked by Kuldeep Yadav - David Miller’s start to this ODI series hasn’t been what he expected, but now, given the added responsibility, he needs to step up his performance. He is a part of a top ODI team that had a run of 17 unbeaten ODI games. A timely reminder of that would give a great boost to his team’s chances of coping up with India’s spin attack. Whereas, for Kuldeep, this series so far has been all about sticking to his plans and bowling positively. He will continue to do the same, and this should help Miller in laying down his strategy of dealing with Kuldeep.

Hashim Amla vs Indian Seamers

While the entire South African batting line-up has been troubled by the spinners, Hashim Amla has been troubled by the seamers. He got out oon Bumrah’s delivery in the first match while Bhuvaneshwar got him in the second. Despite having a confident stroke play in both the innings, Amla got out cheaply (16 and 23 respectively). It is not that he’s looking out of shape; it might just be the matter of time he hits another ton. Amla’s record at the Newlands is not exceptional but he will back himself to change that stat and be the opening batsman who can comfort the batting line-up down the order.

Aiden Markram vs new responsibilities

Markram was said to be the future captain of the South African team, but even he must not have anticipated that this opportunity will surface so soon. Maybe, he is not ready for it. Although, he knows he won’t be blamed for any failure, this can be his chance to shine if he can bring back his team from the brink of defeat. With the ICC World Cup coming up in 2019, he will surely look forward to seal his place in the team, and to show how responsible as a player he can be, he needs to do both the jobs and try to emerge as a hero for the Proteas.


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