Saturday, April 1, 2023

India, South Africa face-off in high voltage decider


By Aritra Chowdhury
Mumbai, Oct 24 (IANS)
Following an all-round performance which helped them level the series 2-2 in Chennai, hosts India will be high on confidence and will aim to clinch the One-Day International (ODI) series when they clash with South Africa in the fifth and final match at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.

Powered by a superb ton from Virat Kohli, India defeated the visitors by 35 runs in the fourth and penultimate ODI to square things up. The debate over who will fit in well in the No.3 batting slot was put to rest on Thursday after the much-needed century from Kohli, who scored a smashing 138.

Coming into the decider, the hosts look a much balanced side both in batting and bowling.

Right from openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan to middle-order batsmen Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina, all have being among the runs in the ongoing series and will look to deliver on Sunday to earn another home series win.

Medium pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma bowled in tandem on a spin-friendly wicket in Chennai and were well supported by spinners Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra, who made life difficult for the opposition batsmen by turning it and picking wickets at regular intervals.

On the other hand, South Africa felt the absence of all-rounder JP Duminy on Thursday, who was ruled out of the series due to a hand injury. The left-handed batsman was replaced by Dean Elgar.

The visitors also heavily depend on their skipper and star batsman AB de Villiers, who scored a sparkling 112 to nearly take the game away from India on Thursday before being caught.

However, the visitors have the depth in their batting as well as bowling to turn it in their favour in no time. Besides, de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, David Miller — all are in good form.

Hashim Amla, meanwhile, has not been up to his level, but come Sunday, the right-hander will look to sort out his batting.

The Proteas pace attack has not been at its very best on the Indian tracks, but experienced Dale Steyn and young Kagiso Rabada have still been effective. Rabada proved his potential to bowl in the death overs and will be the one to watch out for in the high-voltage clash.

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir will lead the Proteas’ spin attack alongside part-timer Farhaan Behardien.

(Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at [email protected])

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