Having already lost the ongoing ODI series against South Africa, India will look to adjust to the tempo of 50-over cricket and win the third and final match here on Sunday to avoid a whitewash.
KL Rahul-led side lost the first ODI by 31 runs while they suffered a seven-wicket defeat in the second match of the three-match series on Friday.
Having learned the lessons from the hosts’ batting, India will have to alter their plans to find solutions to their middle-over woes. The batting lost its way in the middle overs in both matches despite promising starts and there could be potential changes to the Indian playing XI.
The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant have shown their glimpses of brilliance, but they need to fire collectively and score big if Team India wants to win. Venkatesh Iyer and Shreyas Iyer have failed to impress with the bat so the team management will try Suryakumar Yadav in the final ODI.
The bowling, on the other hand, also hasn’t really troubled South Africa much. India’s bowlers have struggled to make inroads in the Powerplay in the last couple of years, and it is something the team will want to rectify in Cape Town, on what is expected to be a spicier pitch compared to the sluggish surface in Paarl.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has looked ordinary in the first two ODIs is likely to be replaced by Mohammed Siraj or Deepak Chahar. Jasprit Bumrah, who has played a lot of cricket consistently in the last few months, could be rested to manage his workload.
Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal have bowled well but they have failed to pick wickets at crucial junctures.
On the other hand, South Africans don’t have as many concerns to address. Each of the top five batters have made significant contributions in at least one of the two matches while the spinners have done their job with the ball, bringing South Africa back into the contest in both matches.
So far, they have been polished in their template in the first two ODIs, winning the first one by setting a score and then completing the highest-ever successful ODI run chase in Paarl in the second.
Having replaced Marco Jansen with Sisanda Magala as their only change with the series on the line on Friday, it seems unlikely the South Africans will tinker too much with their XI. Unless they want to give rest to some of their players and give an opportunity to people who have sat on the bench all series.
Since 2016, South Africa have completed seven ODI series whitewashes at home, blanking five different opponents — Australia (2016 & 2020), Ireland (2016 – one-match series), Sri Lanka (2017 and 2019), Zimbabwe (2018), and Bangladesh (2017). India are in line to be the sixth team if everything goes to plan for the hosts on Sunday in Cape Town.
KL Rahul (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant (w), Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Suryakumar Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Ishan Kishan, Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Siraj, Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Quinton de Kock (w), Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma (c), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Sisanda Magala, Zubayr Hamza, Kyle Verreynne