Wristspin in focus again as South Africa return to green


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Daryll Cullinan says that Imran Tahir, who was dropped for the fourth ODI, could have a role to play for South Africa in the fifth in Port Elizabeth

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Suddenly South Africa have something to play for.

After three matches of one-way traffic and few answers to India’s wristspinners, South Africa were staring at 6-0. But a change of outfit was as good as a new gameplan for them. In pink, at the Wanderers, South Africa chased a target of 202 inside 28 overs, which required them to score at more than seven runs to the over. They took more than half those runs off Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, giving the pair only three wickets. That will have boosted the hosts’ confidence ahead of two must-win games to share the trophy.

Crucially, South Africa’s runs did not come from one person and most of them came from the two people who had a lot to prove. David Miller showed much-needed big-match temperament, Heinrich Klaasen justified his selection and Andile Phehlukwayo put on another fine finishing effort. South Africa’s next challenge will be to prove it was not a one-off. Can they pull back India’s line-up again? And can they tame India’s spinners once again?

India were slightly guilty of taking their foot off the gas with the knowledge they cannot lose the series. After Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli gave the team a strong start, the rest of the line-up all but fell away and lost five wickets for 76 runs. They will want more from their middle-order as they aim to close out the series before they get to the final fixture in Centurion.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa: WLLLW
India: LWWWW

In the spotlight

The focus on South Africa’s middle-order and India’s spinners has taken some attention off the opening partnership, but Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram will only have two more opportunities to show what they can do together. Neither has managed a score higher than 33 but together shared a stand of 43 in Johannesburg and will want to work towards giving the hosts a more solid platform to launch from. Markram may also want to seek Amla’s advice about a few other things, like how to stay within the stipulated time to meet the over-rate, because another offence will see him suspended.

The honours have gone to the India’s spinners who have taken their combined wicket-tally on this tour to 24. Jasprit Bumrah follows them on that list. He has five wickets to his name, one more than Kagiso Rabada and more than double that of any of his non-spinning team-mates. Bumrah has set the tone well and has had the better of Amla twice in the four matches so far. Who will win the head-to-head continues on Tuesday?

Team news

A spinner is likely to be brought back into the South Africa XI and the toss-up will be between Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi. Though Tahir may get in on seniority, South Africa might want to check on his mindset after the incident he had with spectators at the Wanderers, which is being investigated for racial abuse. David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen have done enough to leave Farhaan Behardien fighting for a spot against one of the allrounders.

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 Farhaan Behardien/Chris Morris, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir/Tabraiz Shamsi

India attended an optional practice session on the eve of the ODI. Shreyas Iyer is set to retain his spot given Kedar Jadhav’s hamstring niggle is unlikely to have healed.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Shreyas Iyer/Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Pitch and conditions

Known for being one of South Africa’s slower surfaces, St George’s Park should suit India’s attack. But there should still be plenty of runs in the surface with the average score over the last five matches a shave over 320. A warm and humid day is forecast in Port Elizabeth with a high probability of afternoon showers.

Stats and trivia

  • MS Dhoni has spent the series inching towards 10,000 ODI runs and he is now just 46 away.

  • Results at St George’s Park have been marginally in favour of the chasing team, with 17 of the 32 ODIs won by the team that fields first.

Quotes

“The guys have been specific about their training. They have been doing good analysis and have good game plans. Obviously the conditions were different. So it’s a game plan that we have had in our change room, to be really positive and look to score and get into good positions.”
South Africa put a lot of thought into their handling of the Indian spinners, according to Andile Phehlukwayo



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