Buoyed by the convincing wins in the opening two ODIs, India will fancy their chances to take an unprecedented 3-0 lead when they take on a depleted South African team, plagued by injuries, in the third One-day International of the six-match series at Newlands here on Wednesday.
The Virat Kohli-led tourists outclassed the hosts in the first couple of games in Durban and Centurion by six and nine wickets, respectively.
Previously, India have managed to win two ODIs in a bilateral series in South Africa — in 1992-93 and in 2010-11, only to lose 2-5 and 2-3, respectively.
But given the circumstances in the ongoing series, with the hosts losing their top three players — skipper Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock — to various injuries, the men-in-blue have a bright chance to better their record on South African soil.
Going into the third game, India is unlikely to tinker with the winning combination, which has excelled in all the departments.
Barring opener Rohit Sharma, the top order batting comprising Shikhar Dhawan, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have been in impressive form while in the bowling department, the wrist spin twins — leggie Yuzvendra Chahal and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav — have literally been the reason behind India’s two victories so far, sharing 13 wickets between them.
The pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, have complemented the spin duo well by getting the early breakthrough and also keeping the pressure in the death overs.
South Africa, on the other hand, will need to revisit their strategy if they are to pose a threat to the confident rivals.
While the hosts didn’t rename a replacement for de Kock, young keeper Heinrich Klaasen, who finished as the third highest run-getter in South Africa’s domestic one-day tournament, is expected to make his ODI debut.
The hosts will be hoping for a better and fast-paced start from Klaasen, if he is asked to open along with Hashim Amla.
De Kock and Amla put on 30 and 39 runs for the opening stand in Durban and Centurion, after which the remaining batting line-up — barring du Plessis’ hundred in the opener — wilted against leg spin.
The Proteas could also include the more experienced Ferhaan Behardien to bolster the middle-order and leave out Khayelihle Zondo after his mixed debut outing on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see if stand-in-skipper Aiden Markram still persists with the wrist spin duo of Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi in the third game.
Teams: India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Aiden Markram (Captain), Hashim Amla, Jean Paul Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen (WK).