Superior India eyes historic lead against injury-hit SA

In absence of its key players, South Africa is no match to India’s dominance in the ODI series.

Apart from the injuries, South Africa has been troubled by India’s two wrist spinners.   -  AFP

India has its sights set on an unprecedented 3-0 lead when it takes on an injury-marred South African team in the third ODI of the six-match series on Wednesday.

The visitor won the first two matches of the series in Durban and Centurion by six and nine wickets, respectively, dismantling the home side convincingly. Twice previously, India has managed to win two ODIs in a bilateral series in South Africa - in 1992-93 and in 2010-11. In the latter instance, the visitor shot into a 2-1 lead, only to lose the five-match series 3-2 in the end. They had also lost 5-2 in the other instance.

But this time around, the host don't look like clawing back and reason because of its key players out of action because of injuries. AB de Villiers was ruled out before the first ODI, Faf du Plessis before the second (both suffered finger injuries).

And the list has only grown with Quinton de Kock (left wrist injury) ruled out before the third ODI.

Read: 3rd ODI stats - Dhoni eyes wicketkeeping record

Cricket South Africa didn't name a replacement for him, and Heinrich Klaasen, who finished as the third highest run-getter in the domestic one-day tournament here, is expected to make his ODI debut.

In a way, this could be a blessing in disguise for South Africa. De Kock has been out of form for a while now, failing to cross 50 even once in eight innings against India across both Tests and ODIs.

Klaasen's late inclusion will mean that he is yet to be scarred by Indian wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who have shared 13 wickets in the first two matches. South Africa will be hoping for a better and fast-paced start from the in-form batsman, if he is asked to open along with Hashim Amla.

Also read: No problem at all with Rohit's form, says Shikhar Dhawan

De Kock and Amla put on 30 and 39 for the opening stand in Durban and Centurion, after which the remaining batting line-up -- barring du Plessis' hundred -- wilted against leg spin. The Proteas could also include more experienced Ferhaan Behardien to bolster the middle-order and leave out Khayelihle Zondo after his mixed debut outing on Sunday.

Zondo scored a 45-ball 25, and played far too many risky strokes, but in an innings that folded for 118 runs in 32.2 overs, he was the joint top-scorer with JP Duminy. The other option for the host is to leave out David Miller, who has struggled against Yadav, accommodating both Behardien and Zondo instead.

Also read: Markram trying to stay positive after South Africa slump

In conclusion, South Africa will be keen to make the changes to counter the wrist-spin threat, and make an impression with the bat in the absence of de Villiers and du Plessis.

Meanwhile, the Indian team is relishing a fine role reversal from the Test series. After South Africa shot into a 2-0 lead, the visitor had to chop and change repeatedly to find a plausible combination throughout the Test series. However, in the ODIs, Virat Kohli, who named 35 different playing elevens in 35 Tests, could very well retain same team for the third successive one-dayer.

Consistency will give them a boost in what is surely a match of historic significance, albeit a small one, as India has never before won three matches in an ODI bilateral series on South African soil.

Moreover, at Newlands, India has only played four ODIs, winning two and losing two, since 1992.

Teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.

South Africa: Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen.

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