Proteas’ last fight to save the series

The Plot:

There must be a common question in the South African players’ minds; how do we stop the Indian team from dominating us in our own den? The answer to this question is beyond just a yes or a no. The question is now more complicated after the three serial defeats. All eyes will be hoping to find a savior in AB de Villiers, as he returns for the fourth ODI. He is one of the best South African batsmen and now, every South African fan will expect him to have answers posed by the Indian spinners. The Proteas suffered yet another heavy defeat in the third ODI at Cape Town, and Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal took 8 wickets together. Apart from that, it was Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 160 runs which helped India post a target which was 124 runs more than what South Africa could score.

Team India haven’t been defeated in this series thus far, and the Proteas face an uphill task to save this series by winning all the three remaining games. The arrival of their star batsman, AB de Villiers could inject some hope, but it will need some exceptional performances from him. Historically, Johannesburg has been a happy hunting ground for ABD, scoring three centuries in the last four ODIs he has played here. So far, the South African team has witnessed three injuries to key players, three debutants and three losses. With the fourth ODI taking place in Johannesburg on 10th February, the Protea batsmen will try to come prepared for the Indian spinners. While a lack of experience in the South African batting line-up could be considered as the reason behind their dismal performance, their bowling attack has struggled against Virat Kohli in the ODIs despite finding considerable joy in preceding tests.

The Wanderers stadium will be hosting the customary ‘Pink ODI’ as part of the campaign for breast cancer awareness. The Proteas will don their pink jerseys, something they have never lost a game in, yet. AB de Villiers had scored his fastest century against West Indies here on this ground in pink. Another positive thing for Proteas can be JP Duminy’s performance in the last match. He was impressive with 2 wickets and a half century. These senior players will try to make his mark in the most crucial match of this series. There is no scope for South Africa to make any kind of mistakes. India would be rather relaxed, but the captain might still play the same team as the series has not been won yet.

Stage:

Wanderers, Johannesburg

This is the stadium which has witnessed some of the most exciting encounters of all time. Be it Australia’s crackling innings in the World Cup final of 2003 or South Africa’s extraordinary run chase of 438 runs in 2006. This stadium with the capacity of 28,000, can witness another high scoring match today and the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers should ensure that. India will have a psychological edge at this ground, having won the last Test match here, which perhaps brought around the turn-around to their form.

Acts:

Kuldeep Yadav & Yuzvendra Chahal vs AB de Villiers:

This is the most anticipated battle, as ABD is the only untested batsman against the Indian spin attack. It will be interesting to see how he deals with this in-form spinning duo. He is known to be a good player of spin bowling and he can read their deliveries well enough. If he manages to pass this test, then it will be interesting to see how the duo responds.

JP Duminy vs Shikhar Dhawan:

Shikhar Dhawan was striking the ball with fair confidence. He looked like he would cruise towards his century. JP Duminy came into the attack and accounted for the opener’s wicket. He ended up bowling 10 overs after his first spell. Dhawan would rue the fact that he fell to a part-timer, and will either be cautious or could take the attack to Duminy.

Aiden Markram vs Pressure:

Markram will walk in the Wanderer’s Stadium, as a captain for the 3rd time. After being a captain for a losing side on two occasions, this time, he will have the responsibility to save the series for South Africa. Certainly, this may not have been the ideal situation for him to become the captain of the South African side. Apart from his responsibility as a captain, he has the pressure of batting as an opener too. If he plays a decent innings, it will certainly boost the entire squad and an inspired squad will be easier to lead for him.


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