PORT ELIZABETH, February 12 (ANA) – India are still 3-1 ahead and the favourites, but will have to dig deep to make sure they bounce back hard after the reversal in the 5th ODI against South Africa on Tuesday at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth.
The effects of Heinrich Klaasen’s unbeaten 43 in 27 balls in the fourth One-Day International in Johannesburg could well be far-reaching. It didn’t just keep South Africa alive in the six-match series, it also injected much-needed life into the series as a contest. And it might well spur South Africa on to bigger and better.
Up till that knock, India had everything going their way. The first three ODIs were won with consummate ease, with Virat Kohli going on a run-scoring spree, and the spin-bowling duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal flummoxing the South African batsmen.
Kohli currently enjoys the view from atop the run-scorers’ list, with 393 runs in four matches, while both Kuldeep and Chahal have so far picked up 12 wickets each, with Kuldeep’s average of 10.66 putting him in front of his partner.
It, therefore, came as something of a shock that South Africa, having so looked out of sorts against spin, managed to keep the two at bay in the fourth game. Having said that, South Africa did have a lot going for them – rain reduced their target to 202 from 28 overs, and it also meant that the Indian spinners weren’t able to grip the ball as well as they would have liked.
India will look to brush the loss aside and wrap the series up India will look to brush the loss aside and wrap the series up
Despite that, Klaasen – playing just his second ODI – needed to produce a solid rearguard effort to see this through, and his runs came in crucial partnerships of 72 with David Miller and 33 with Andile Phehlukwayo.
That it came in the Pink Day game, one that South Africa have never lost, added to the allure.
The challenge for South Africa now will be to keep at it in the fifth ODI in Port Elizabeth and stay in with a chance of keeping the series going. There were plenty of positives they can take heart from, like the fact that despite Shikhar Dhawan (109) and Kohli (75) getting among the runs, they restricted India to 289/7.
Not to forget, AB de Villiers is back even if Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock are not – that’s a big deal for the team.
However, it is equally true that India made matters hard for themselves. Before bad weather interrupted play, India seemed well on course for a total around 350. And later while chasing a truncated total, South Africa did fall to 102/4 before Miller and Klaasen ground things out.
India must brush the loss aside and look to wrap the series up. They are still favourites to do just that. South Africa will need to build on the positives, and ensure the negatives are kept at a minimum.
Plenty of rain is forecast in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, and it is likely to affect the match at some stage.
Squads, South Africa: Aiden Markram (capt), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khaya Zondo
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma (vice-capt), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Shardul Thakur
– African News Agency (ANA)