JOHANNESBURG: For a down and out team, South Africa looked surprisingly buoyant at the Wanderers cricket stadium on Friday. Right now, they are desperately in need of some inspiration if they are to prevent India from running away with the series. On the eve of the fourth One-Day International against India, they are clearly depending on two factors to back them up as they gear up for a must-win game.
ALSO READ: Over-dependence on Kohli, spinners is worrying: Srikkanth
Three down in a six-match series and with three more games to go, the hosts will be happy to find the mercurial AB de Villiers back in the team. Along with AB, they head into a special game — the pink ODI — here, reminding themselves of the significance of this occasion and the fact that they haven’t ever lost a game in that attire on the previous five occasions.
On one of those five occasions, de Villiers had ended up smashing a 44-ball 149 runs — against the West Indies in January 2015 — an innings that remains the icing on the cake for South Africa among all other dominating ‘Pink Day’ performances at home.
ALSO READ: BCCI must think of social causes too: Gavaskar
Their inability so far to play wrist spin aside, South Africa have been left hugely handicapped in the absence of de Villiers, captain Faf du Plessis and wicket-keeper-batsman Quinton de Kock in the first three matches.
Hashim Amla’s continuing poor form added to the home team’s woes as India went three-up in the most dominating fashion. While Faf and de Kock will continue to miss out on the series, de Villiers’ return gives a huge edge to South Africa’s batting on a wicket that appears to have been laid out for the sole purpose of scoring runs.
The Wanderers has been a high scoring venue for a while now, especially for teams that have had the kind of batting line-up to take advantage of the conditions and the fast outfield here. It is here that South Africa had chased Australia’s 434 in a mind-boggling One-day game that first indicated the wildest possibilities in a sport that fans were only waking up to.
De Villiers’ return to the side will neither mean Aiden Markram stepping aside from captaincy not Heinrich Klaasen giving up on the wicket-keeping gloves. The middle-order batsman is expected to return to the XI by replacing newcomer Khaya Zondo.
For the massive following AB enjoys here in South Africa, like almost anywhere else in the world, the batsman averages 100.85 from 11 matches at the Wanderers. It is while wearing pink at this venue that he gets all the more dangerous, as opposition teams have been witness to.
Markram will clearly look up to the genius of AB to save his team the blushes. South Africa haven’t lost a game at home in pink. However, they haven’t lost three ODIs in succession so poorly to a visiting team either.
An early wrap up will allow Virat Kohli and the Indian team management to try out the remaining players from the 15 who have travelled here.
On Saturday, India can be expected to walk into the game with the same XI that played the first three games. In doing that, they’ll do better to remember that barring Kohli, the onus still remains on the rest of the batsmen to put up a big score. Source : timesofindia