Returning ABdV offers SA hope of denying India glory

Match details

Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
February 10, Saturday; 13:00 local, 16:30 IST
Live on Sony Ten 1 HD, Ten 1 (English), Ten 3 HD, Ten 3 (Hindi)

The main picture

AB de Villiers has returned to the South Africa squad for the fourth ODI and is likely to take the field on Saturday, after recovering from a right index finger injury. He is one batsman, other than Faf du Plessis and the out-of-form Hashim Amla, capable of tackling the Indian spinners with a level of comfort. And statistically, de Villiers has enjoyed playing the Pink ODIs and boasts a proud record at the Wanderers Stadium, making three centuries and three half-centuries to go with a batting average of over 100.

de Villiers cannot bat for Aiden Markram and Jean-Paul Duminy, who have been almost clueless against Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, but he might make life easier for them during the middle phase of the innings (overs 11 to 40). He has generally been a good player of spin and unlike most others, de Villiers will not let any bowler dictate terms to him; and his biggest strength is the proactive, unorthodox style of batting. If de Villiers is close to his best, the others can feed off him.

The question, however, is, how much of a difference can de Villiers make to a batting line-up which has collectively failed in the first three ODIs? Even if he goes on to make a century, the batting form of others may well hinder the Proteas from posting a competitive score batting first and, if they bat second, chasing any score against this potent Indian bowling attack is likely to be difficult. Unless Amla and the other experienced heads like Duminy, David Miller and Farhaan Behardien come good with the bat.

The other major key to success for South Africa is dismissing Virat Kohli, who has been out just once so far in three innings. While Kohli cannot win Test matches for India single-handedly, he is time and again proving that he can win ODIs and T20Is for his team. And whether the home team bowl first or second, the wicket of the Indian captain may prove to be the difference between winning and losing.

Teams batting second have tended to do well at the Wanderers, where 14 of the 22 day-night ODIs have been won chasing. And the Wanderers pitch for ODIs has generally be perfect for stroke play, while the relatively small outfield offers plenty of value for even miscues. This is another venue where the Proteas have a good record, winning 75 per cent of the ODIs they have played here (32), while India have won only one of the four matches they have played at this venue, that victory coming in the 2010-11 series, with India successfully defending 190. The weather forecast for Saturday is partly sunny with a high of 25 degree Celsius and a low of 16 degree Celsius. A shower or thunderstorm is predicted in the evening.

Recent form

SA: LLLWW (from left to right, last five completed ODIs)

India vs South Africa 4th ODI playing XI

AB de Villiers is certain to return to the playing 11, with Khayelihle Zondo potentially making way. David Miller has had a poor series with the bat (32 runs in three innings) and his place is under threat from Farhaan Behardien. In the bowling department, Lungi Ngidi had a poor ODI debut in Cape Town and may make way for Morne Morkel, who was surprisingly left out for the third ODI.

Possible South Africa playing XI for the fourth ODI: 1 Aiden Markram (c), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 5 Jean-Paul Duminy, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

India don’t have to alter their playing XI unless someone has picked up an injury between the third and fourth ODIs.

Possible India playing 11 vs South Africa: 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

Match prediction

de Villiers, given the calibre of player he is, can make a difference to South Africa with his presence on the field and with the bat, but if the home team are to bounce back with a win, they need a complete performance. They have won each of the five Pink ODIs since 2013 and will take inspiration from that flawless record for Saturday, when they must win to keep the series alive. India, once again, will start as favourite.

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