South Africa vs India 3rd ODI Preview: Opportunity for listless India to restore some pride against motivated Proteas
While South Africa have been right on the money in the ODIs, India have been off the boil.
LIVE SCORES - South Africa vs India, 3rd ODI
India not playing like themselves
It's not the toss, not the surface, and certainly not the luck. There is a clear gap in the intensity with which both teams are playing.
Put it down to the series not being part of the ODI World Cup super league or Virat Kohli stepping down as India's captain or Team India being in a state of transition, but there is certainly a drive lacking in the side.
Unable to manoeuvre the conditions
When they bowled first in the first ODI, the surface was difficult but manageable. However, the partnership between Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma ensured that South Africa got 30 runs over and above the par score, which ultimately turned out to be the clincher.
The Indian batting as well was completely out of sorts in the first ODI with only Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Shardul Thakur able to make a mark.
Moreover, the impact of Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal bore a clear difference when compared to the likes of Aiden Markram, Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj, which is surprising given the experience the Indian spinners possess.
South African spinners choke India
In the second ODI, when Team India won the toss and decided to bat first, it appeared that they would have an advantage on a slow pitch. However, the surface played quite well in the beginning, with the Indian openers finding it quite easy to face the South African pace bowlers.
But, as the game moved forward and the likes of Aiden Markram and Keshav Maharaj were introduced, the Indian innings was derailed.
There was a crucial partnership between Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul, with Pant hitting some sumptuous strokes. However, he could not reach his century and with KL Rahul too getting dismissed in quick succession, India suffered another collapse.
Had it not been for the partnership between Ravichandran Ashwin and Shardul Thakur, India would have folded up for around 250 but even when they reached closer to 300, the ease with which the South African batters chased down that target exposed the toothless Indian bowling.
Bhuvi's time up
For far too long, India have been carrying the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in their playing XI and only recently did away with Mohammed Shami in white ball cricket.
When players like Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel have been performing brilliantly in the IPL and domestic cricket, it seems irrational to continue to stick to the old guard despite the stats showing another picture.
There is an apparent lack of pace in the Indian bowling line up with Navdeep Saini the only one with the ability to crank it up. A series loss copped by a relatively experienced Indian side is not only an embarrassment but a wake-up call and it's time that India decide to revamp not only their bowling line-up but a shaky middle order.
Deepak Chahar or Navdeep Saini might replace Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the final ODI. Suryakumar Yadav should come into the fold and above all, India should show a lot more intent.
The series might already be decided but there is still pride to play for, and for a generally inspired outfit like India, pride matters much more than the scoreline.
Predicted playing XIs
South Africa - Quinton de Kock (wk), Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Sisanda Magala
India - KL Rahul (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Deepak Chahar/Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal
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