PPC Newlands, Cape Town
February 7, Wednesday; 13:00 local, 16:30 IST
Live on Sony Ten 1 HD, Ten 1 (English), and on Sony Ten 3 HD, Ten 3 (Hindi)
The main picture
A highly-anticipated ODI series has turned into a non-event in case it hadn’t already with the losses of the former captain and current captain to finger injuries. South Africa have lost yet another of their key batsmen and an integral member of the ODI side, in Quinton de Kock, for the remainder of India’s tour with a left wrist injury. He hasn’t been in good form with the bat and might not be as big a loss as AB de Villiers or Faf du Plessis. But de Kock’s absence may change the structure of the batting line-up and take away the little firepower it had in the first two ODIs.
Hashim Amla probably has to bat in the middle order to lend balance and South Africa will now field three players (Heinrich Klaasen, Khayelihle Zondo and Aiden Markram) who are either starting their international careers or looking to make a mark as an ODI player. Which is not to say that they can’t come good, but the South African batting is crying out for de Villiers and du Plessis and their prowess against spin.
The home team’s best chance of coming back into this series is playing on a pitch with pace, bounce and seam movement. The Indian spinners will then become slightly neutralised and South Africa will be able to bring their pace battery into play. Otherwise, this series threatens to turn into a procession.
India have benefitted from playing against a significantly weakened South African side, particularly in the second ODI, though their bowling attack has shone playing on familiar pitches that have aided their wrist-spinners. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have thrived amidst the lack of pressure that AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis will have exerted on them. This wrist-spin duo has combinedly taken 13 wickets in two matches, but not all of them have been ‘their wickets’; the South African batsmen have played their part in getting themselves out on a fair few occasions. On the batting front, India’s ever-suspect middle order hasn’t been tested, thanks to the genius of Virat Kohli and the bowlers making the batsmen’s life easier.
The pitch for the Test match played at the Newlands was loaded in favour of the seamers, who extracted prodigious seam movement. But the last two ODIs at this venue have seen a colossal 1317 runs be scored in four innings. The side batting first (South Africa) won on both the occasions, but the teams chasing (Australia and Sri Lanka) did come close to overhauling the totals well above 300. Historically too, teams batting first have tasted the most success, winning 23 of the 29 day-night matches at this venue. India have won one and lost two of their three ODI matches against South Africa here. Sunny and pleasant is the weather forecast for Wednesday in Cape Town, with the morning temperature being 27 degree Celsius and the temperature at night dropping to 18 degree Celsius.
SA: LLWWW (from left to right, last five ODIs)
3rd ODI: India vs South Africa playing 11
The home team have to strengthen their batting and shuffle the line-up. A replacement hasn’t been named for the injured de Kock, who is likely to be replaced in the playing XI by the only wicketkeeper in the squad, Heinrich Klaasen. South Africa must look to integrate Farhaan Behardien in the line-up as well: this 34-year-old right-hand batsman has been in good form in domestic cricket, notching up five half-centuries in his last 10 List-A outings.
Possible South Africa playing XI: 1 Aiden Markram (c), 2 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jean-Paul Duminy, 5 Farhaan Behradien, 6 Khayelihle Zondo, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Tabraiz Shamsi, 11 Imran Tahir
India’s playing XI is unlikely to be changed from the last ODI unless a player has picked up an injury leading up to Wednesday’s match.
Possible India playing 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
India, strange as it may look, will once again start as favourites to win the third ODI. Virat Kohli is in dominant batting form and the bowling quartet of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep, and Chahal are on top their game, too. And, minus du Plessis, de Villiers and de Kock, South Africa seemingly don’t have the ammunition to trouble India. All said and done, though, the team who play the better cricket on the day will come up trumps.