Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Start time 1230 local (1030 GMT)
'Baby' Rabada may sit in Durban
Now for the excitement. A series absent of context and eclipsed by bigger contests around the cricketing world could finally come to the fore. The Ashes is over, the Test match in Colombo is over; Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers and Kumar Sangakkara's farewells are over so there is no excuse not to be interested and the last match is a decider, with the teams locked at 1-1. South Africa will move to the third place in the ODI rankings if they win, overtaking New Zealand itself.
So far, the cricket has been creative at times as was evident when both teams opened the bowling with spinners, which is rarely done in South African conditions and comical at other times, with dropped catches making as many highlights as runs and wickets but it has not been as competitive as some may have liked. South Africa's 20-run victory in the first match was more about routine than ruthlessness and New Zealand's eight-wicket canter in the second was won by the halfway stage. With a trophy on the line both teams should have more fire and fury in the belly.
They would also have had the time to assess whether they have gleaned anything from their experimentation and probably found an equal number of solutions as problems. South Africa still have the No. 7 problem after David Wiese struggled but at least they know Morne van Wyk's days are over. New Zealand have seen Tom Latham and George Worker come good but may be concerned about whether Colin Munro has a long-term future. Those are issues to mull over later - on Wednesday, it's about claiming a series.
(last five completed games most recent first)
South Africa LWLLW New Zealand WLWWL
In the spotlight
Rilee Rossouw has looked the most in-form batsman among his team-mates, although he does not have the numbers to show for it, and could use a big score to cement his position in the team in the near future. When Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy return, South Africa's line-up will be crowded and Rossouw could be relegated to the reserves. A reminder of what he has to offer would be timely.
With scores of 7, 29, 5, 6 and 1, it's fair to say Luke Ronchi has not made a major contribution on this tour so far. He does not always get the opportunity to do so with New Zealand's top order regularly leaving him with little time in the middle. However, like any good wicketkeeper, he is hardly noticed behind the stumps which means he is doing a fairly good job, but he will hope for the chance to bat a little longer or at least pull off a stunner behind the stumps.
Kyle Abbott is the only member of the ODI squad who has not played yet and South Africa may choose to give him a run on his home ground. With Vernon Philander bowling well, it may be a choice between Abbott and Kagiso Rabada with Aaron Phangiso likely to sit out in favour of Imran Tahir. Although Morne van Wyk has misfired, South Africa do not have another reserve batsman unless they choose to play Dean Elgar, who was included as cover after du Plessis was injured.
South Africa (probable): 1 Morne van Wyk (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Rilee Rossouw, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 David Wiese, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Kagiso Rabada/Kyle Abbott, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Imran Tahir
A trio of tweaks to their starting XI saw New Zealand win the second game and they may be tempted to keep their victorious team but conditions could dictate otherwise. Two specialist spinners could be a luxury in Durban so Ish Sodhi or Nathan McCullum may have to make room for either Mitchell McClenaghan to come back in or Matt Henry to get his first opportunity. George Worker is likely to keep his spot because James Neesham, who missed out the second ODI with back pain, is unlikely to recover in time for the decider.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Tom Latham, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 George Worker, 5 Grant Elliott, 6 Colin Munro, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum/Ish Sodhi, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Ben Wheeler/Mitchell McClenaghan, 11 Adam Milne
Pitch and conditions
There won't be any more complaints or need for paint on the outfield as the dead, dry grass of the Highveld is being left behind for the lush green ground of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Kingsmead's pitch was also the one that received the most praise by the teams after it hosted the first T20. It won't be as slow or sticky as the surfaces up country and should have some spice in it for the quicks, but decent scores for the batsmen too. Another warm day is forecast for Durban with day-time highs of 27 degrees.
Stats and trivia
New Zealand have come back from a game down to win the next two matches in their last two series. In England, they then lost the last two to concede the series 3-2 but in Zimbabwe they won the three-match series 2-1.
South Africa have not lost two bilateral ODI series in succession since 2009-10 when they suffered back-to-back defeats against England and India.
"It's a huge game. Decider. Winner take all -- it's a final, in essence."
New Zealand bowling coach Dimitri Mascarenhas lays emphasis on the context of the series decider.
"We've done it before, before a few big World Cup games in Australia. We've got a few niggles and I don't think one practice session is going to make too much of a difference. We just feel it might be a good day to connect as a team and doing something other than cricket."
Russell Domingo explains why South Africa did not train ahead of the final ODI