These teams last went to Centurion with India looking to keep the Test series alive and South Africa looking to prevent the ODI series from becoming a predictable scene of dominance for India. Going back to Centurion a third time, a match presumably given to appease the venue for the lack of a Test during the Australia tour, we have a dead rubber. Finally – and it took a while despite all the injuries to South Africa – it seems like life has been sucked out of this tour.
South Africa have admitted they have got a good-old hiding from India. Unwilling to risk a maiden series win, India had been playing their main bowlers throughout, but once the series was decided even they hinted at resting some of their players before the T20I series. They decided not to train before the ODI. The day before the final ODI felt like a big low following a rushed, tightly packed, action-filled tour. Even Jacob Zuma couldn’t be bothered anymore.
The game will be a chance for India to rest somebody like Jasprit Bumrah, who has played every match on the tour. Only Kagiso Rabada has bowled more – 887 balls to Bumrah’s 877 – this year and should also earn a rest although South Africa should be more desperate for a face-saving win than India’s quest for 5-1. India will also get a chance to look at their middle-order options. In a more evened out contest, India will hope these batsmen are tested in a pressure situation.
South Africa: LWLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Called up on short notice, Heinrich Klaasen has given a decent account of himself with the bat. He has got that first important innings out of the way, which should tell him he belongs to this level. This could be his last ODI for a while as Quinton de Kock should regain fitness, so Klassen will love to now add to the promise with a big innings.
Shreyas Iyer has not had the best of the time in this series. Brought in to replace the injured Kedar Jadhav, he has found himself in difficult situations: he has been caught in two slowdowns, and has also dropped catches in both the matches. This Indian team doesn’t discard players so easily; there will be a chance for Iyer again, he will need to show his best cricket because the last two ODIs were not close to his best, whether it be batting or fielding.
There is a T20I series to follow, and more importantly a big Test series soon after. Expect South Africa to rest Rabada at least. It is not yet certain if Chris Morris has recovered from his stiff back.
South Africa (probable): 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Aiden Markram (capt.), 3 JP Duminy, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 David Miller, 6 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 7 Chris Morris, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Lungi Ngidi, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
India have been playing their best XI wanting to seal the series win but should now rest some of them, especially since there is no temptation of a whitewash and also because there is a T20I series starting two days after this ODI. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar could do with a break, Axar Patel could do with a look-in, there are batsmen who have warmed the bench so far, and, finally, don’t be surprised if even Virat Kohli rests himself. So it is difficult to list a possible XI for India.
Pitch and conditions
Back to Centurion, the most home-like conditions for India so far. It is hard to see the pitch gathering pace overnight. There is a thunderstorm or two around, but given the good drainage, we should have a match.
Stats and trivia
India are the only team other than Australia to have beaten South Africa in South Africa in a series of a five ODIs or more
South Africa’s batting average of 22.65 and bowling average of 50.2 are their worst numbers in any bilateral series at home
In the whole tour, South Africa have registered only one century; India have five, three from Virat Kohli and one each from Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan
“When you’re playing well and someone has a brilliant innings, cracks can be covered. But when you lose in this manner, whatever adjustments need to be made, you focus on it more. For me that’s a very positive thing.”
Hashim Amla looks at the brighter side