South Africa will be eyeing a clean sweep in the ODIs – something that seemed unlikely when the tour started
Outbatted. Outbowled. Outcaptained. That’s what South Africa did to India in the first two ODIs. Under Temba Bavuma, they played like a close-knit unit and, on a Boland Park pitch that looked more Indian than South African, defeated India comprehensively in successive games.
India, on the other hand, had said before the series that they were looking to build a team for the 2023 World Cup and wouldn’t mind trying out a few things. They will have another opportunity to do that, but it’s not clear if they have ticked any boxes so far.
Ahead of the series, stand-in captain KL Rahul spoke about how important it was to have a sixth bowling option in the XI but then he didn’t give Venkatesh Iyer a single over in the first ODI. Rahul’s own approach with the bat – a strike rate of 69.79 in the series – has also been a little puzzling, while the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin has looked anything but threatening despite the spin-friendly conditions in the first two ODIs.
South Africa WWLWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Aiden Markram was arguably South Africa’s best batter at the 2021 T20 World Cup. However, his poor returns during the Test series against India started the chatter about whether he needed to go back to domestic cricket to find his form. In the second ODI, Markram showed encouraging signs with an unbeaten 37 off 41 and would be eager to build on it.
India’s powerplay bowling will also be under the microscope. Their bowlers have picked up only ten wickets in the powerplay overs in the last 23 ODIs. They have the worst average (132.10) and the worst economy (5.74) among all teams in that phase. Can they find a solution to their new-ball issues?
South Africa may rest Lungi Ngidi, who has played all three Tests and two ODIs so far. In his place, they could either bring back Marco Jansen, or give an opportunity to Dwaine Pretorius.
South Africa (probable): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Janneman Malan, 3 Temba Bavuma (capt), 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Marco Jansen/Dwaine Pretorius, 10 Sisanda Magala, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
India played the same XI in the first two ODIs but they could rest Jasprit Bumrah and give a chance to Mohammed Siraj. Deepak Chahar could get a look-in as well.
India (probable): 1 KL Rahul (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Venkatesh Iyer, 7 Shardul Thakur, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Deepak Chahar/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Pitch and conditions
Cape Town last hosted an ODI in February 2020, so it’s difficult to say how the pitch will behave. Conditions wise, it should be cooler than Paarl, with a peak temperature of around 31-degree Celsius.
Stats and trivia
“A guy like me has always seen them bowl in the IPL and international cricket. So it was good to go out and get some game-time against them. You need more time to face guys like those because you need to get the rhythm of each and every one of them. So it was a kind of challenge for me to do it in the first and second game.”
Janneman Malan on scoring 91 against an Indian attack comprising Bumrah, Chahal and Ashwin
“The way Rishabh batted, with two wickets down, it’s not easy. We all know he can play shots but the way he managed the first 20 balls and then took down the spinners… He targeted the areas where he is strong, which is something he is really working on. It’s great to see he has done that and it will give him a lot of confidence going ahead.”
KL Rahul was all praise for Rishabh Pant after his swashbuckling knock in the second ODI
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo