India earned yet another victory in the ongoing ODI series, going 3-0 up after the spinners put in another excellent performance. Captain Kohli scored an excellent 160 to give India a score of over 300 to defend. The South African batsmen failed to cross 200.
The good news for the home side is that Devilliers is back to the squad for the final three ODIs. His availability for the fourth ODI is yet suspect, so the home side will be hoping he can make it. How much of a difference will it really make though?
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur
Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khaya Zondo
Where the teams stand
India’s success in the series is largely down to 3-4 players. The Chahal-Kuldeep spin duo, Kohli, and Dhawan have all successfully ensured India’s 3-0 run in the series so far. The spinners have taken 21 of the 28 wickets to fall from the opposition whereas Kohli averages over a 100 in the three matches played. Dhawan has scored two half centuries, but the rest of the batting lineup, barring Sharma, has either not received a chance to bat, or have not performed when they have. Rahane chipped in with a handy 79 in the first ODI, but the rest lower than him only received a chance to bat in the last match, and as predicted, they failed to get going all of a sudden after not getting any match practice in the ODIs. This remains India’s only concern in the batting, their ability if Kohli/Dhawan/Rahane fail.
The bowling suffers from a similar issue, but it is much less likely that the spin duo will fail against a batting lineup that obviously finds slow bowling cumbersome. One big positive amidst this is that the one or two wickets that the pacers chip in with has usually been that of an opener early on in the innings. Kumar or Bumrah get through the initial defenses for the spinners to wreak havoc, a tactic that has worked so far. If the South Africans cannot adjust to the spin, this will likely be a recursive feature in the fourth ODI as well.
The South African batsmen have evidently found scoring very difficult in their own backyard, giving the Indians a massive advantage due to their bowling prowess. Miller personified this in the last match, scoring 25 from 42 balls with only one boundary in his innings. Markram and Duminy presented a glimmer of hope after the latter reached his half century, but both of them and Klassen fell in a space of 5 overs. If Deviliers returns, it will greatly boost the batting, but the best way for South Africa to win remains trying to bowl first and bowl the Indians out and chase down a potentially low target.
For that to happen, the bowlers need to start contributing to the cause. They have been surprisingly ordinary in all three matches, a shadow of their former selves. This is the same team that won 10+ matches successively in ODIs not too long ago, and they need to find the same rhythm somehow. South Africa’s fate and the series hangs in the balance.
India win. There is only so much Deviliers can do, and the Indian spinners are relishing these pitches far too much to fail. Things do not look good for South Africa.