India's last chance to turn up before Test challenge
Match factsWednesday, December 11, 2013
Start time 1330 local (1130GMT)
Big PictureCenturion's SuperSport Park was due to host the fourth ODI between South Africa and India as per the original schedule. In the early planning stages, the administrators were hopeful that it would be in the midst of an exciting series. Instead, what this ground has got is two dead rubbers, but they will be more pleased with this one.
When South Africa played Pakistan here, the hosts had already lost the series. Now they will take on India, having already won.
The difference in the results - a mere 12 days apart - is largely a sign of the opposition's ability to adjust to these conditions, but it is also an indication of South Africa's progress. AB de Villiers, South Africa's captain, said he wanted consistency from his team at the end of the six-week period in which they would play 11 ODIs.
He got some of that in the UAE, when they beat Pakistan 4-1 but was disappointed to see them lose immediately afterwards. Now, after three successive victories, things have begun to move in the way de Villiers would have wanted them to once again. While the bowling has remained outstanding throughout, the batting has caught up.
De Villiers will want all departments firing in South Africa's last ODI for months. With none scheduled against Australia, this is likely their final appearance in 50-overs cricket until July next year, when they are due to play Zimbabwe.
India don't have a gap that large and they won't be looking too far ahead. For them, the match is about turning up, a week after arriving in the country. So far, they have failed to adjust to conditions with neither their batsmen nor their bowlers showing much aptitude for South African surfaces. With the Tests still to come and rain likely to affect the tour match, this may be their last chance to make the technical tweaks they need.
Form guideSouth Africa: WWWLL (last five completed games, most recent first)
In the spotlightAdmittedly he has not had much opportunity to spend a lengthy period of time in the middle, but David Miller has gone 12 innings - across both the home and away series against Pakistan and the current one against India - without a fifty. At No. 6, Miller is expected to be the finisher but with little time to construct an innings, he has not always been able to fulfill that role. He will hope for a longer spell in the middle and a chance to show off both his big-hitting and his temperament.
After slumping to 65 for 4 and 34 for 3 in the first two ODIs, India's top order will be expected to have adjusted sufficiently to prevent another collapse. Their ability to deal with pace and the short ball will be under scrutiny on a surface that is expected to be another testing one, and India's line-up will want to get it right with the Test series looming.
Team newsDespite making his return to ODI cricket just four matches ago, Jacques Kallis is being rested for the dead rubber. Henry Davids will come back into the side, with a view to improving his recent international showing. Wayne Parnell will play as the second allrounder, behind Ryan McLaren. One of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel may also be given a break and with no other seamers in the squad, that would allow Imran Tahir game time ahead of the Test series.
South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Henry Davids, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 and 10 Dale Steyn/Morne Morkel/Vernon Philander/Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Imran Tahir
India changed the composition of their attack for the second ODI without success and may have to revert back to some of the seamers from the Johannesburg match. Umesh Yadav was the least impressive and could make way for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, while it will be a tricky choice between Ishant Sharma and Mohit Sharma.
India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh/Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma/Mohit Sharma, 11 Mohammed Shami
Pitch and conditionsGiven India's struggles with pace and bounce, another spicy surface can be expected. The curator may not have had much preparation time, with rain dominating the build-up - the showers may also extend into the match. Rain fell throughout Tuesday and more is forecast for Wednesday. The afternoon is set to be clear, but drizzle in the morning and evening could result in a curtailed match.
Stats and trivia
- India's attack have conceded over 260 runs in 10 of their previous 11 ODIs and over 300 in six of those
- With the series already decided, Pakistan remain the only subcontinent side to beat South Africa in a bilateral series at home
- What India can prevent is a two-point loss at the top of the rankings table. If they are defeated in the third match, they will remain in the No. 1 spot but will move from 121 points to 119. In that scenario, South Africa will gain two points and move up to fourth. If India win the match, South Africa remain in fifth place
Quotes"India rocked up as the No. 1 team and that presented a challenge for us. We met that with intensity and aggression."
South Africa allrounder Ryan McLaren
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent