India vs South Africa, 3rd ODI Preview: India look to take unbeatable lead

India's bowler Kuldeep Yadav, left, celebrates with teammate Yuzvendra Chahal after taking a third wicket of South Africa's batsman Kagiso Rabada, during the second One Day International cricket match between South Africa and India at Centurion Park in Pretoria, South Africa, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
India have never before won three ODIs in a bilateral series in South Africa and that looks probable owing to the current dominance over the Proteas. At Newlands, India have played four matches, winning two and losing two.

India will go for the kill in the 3rd ODI against South Africa in Cape Town following convincing wins in the first two games of the six-match series. Undone by the wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, South Africa haven’t been helped by the absence of key players due to injuries. And that count has only grown with each passing match.

India have never beaten South Africa in an away bilateral ODI series. Only twice have India been able to manage to win two ODIs in a series – in 1992/93 and 2010/11 but went on to lose both by 5-2 and 3-2 margins. In the latter instance, India led the series 2-1 before giving away the advantage and the series. However, the odds of that repeating look low. Should that materialise, it would be a major blow for the now top-ranked India who have completely blown South Africa away in the first two matches.

Injuries to key players – AB de Villiers (three ODIs), Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock (ODI, T20 series) – hasn’t helped South Africa’s cause either. AB de Villiers was ruled out before the series began, Faf after the first ODI and De Kock after the second. Multiple injuries and inclusion of inexperienced youngsters won’t make things easier for the Proteas who are now playing catchup. With no replacement named for De Kock, Heinrich Klaasen is expected to make his debut. However, this could be a blessing in disguise for South Africa with De Kock out of form in the series so far and Klaasen coming in as the highest scorer in domstic cricket.

South Africa will be hoping for a better showing against Chahal and Kuldeep who have combined for 13 wickets so far in the two ODIs and been extremely cheap at the same time. Fact that Klaasen hasn’t faced either could help the Proteas to ensure there is no fear factor involved. As for the rest of the pack, they would need to pick up pace if the hosts are to reduce the deficit.

In terms of team changes, South Africa could employ Klaasen at the top of the order alongside Hashim Amla. Or stand-in skipper Aiden Markram could promote himself higher up the order having batted at no. 4 in Durban and no.3 in Centurion. Proteas could also include a more experienced Ferhaan Behardien to bolster the middle-order and leave out Khayelihle Zondo after a less than convincing debut on Sunday. A bold plan could be to drop David Miller and include both.

On the other side of the fence, India are sitting pretty with both batting and bowling clicking in equal measure. The bowling has been put to its paces more than the batting has with wins by six-wickets and nine-wickets respectively. The bowling has thus far been an all-out spin show with Chahal and Kuldeep the headline acts.

At Newlands, India have had a mixed record with two wins and two losses from four matches played. A third win and it could well be curtains for South Africa in the ODI series. A series win and India could open a sizeable lead at the top of the ODI rankings. A win for South Africa will see India move back to the second spot.

Teams (from):

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, 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).


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