India played their first ODI series in South Africa in 1991/92. That series and every single one played between the two sides since then in South Africa, have resulted only in a victory for the hosts. More than 25 years after that first tour though, India are on the cusp of sealing a maiden ODI series win against South Africa away from home. They are 3-0 up and a win or a tie in Johannesburg would seal South Africa’s fate.
The Proteas were dealt a body blow before the series even started with AB De Villiers being ruled out of the first three matches. They may have lost the first ODI but the frailty in the batting line up was somewhat patched up by a century from captain Faf Du Plessis. With Du Plessis being ruled out for the rest of the series after that, South Africa dished out two of the most un-South African performances you will ever see in the second and third ODIs. They are infamous for their tendency to choke at crucial moments in big tournaments but that flaw rarely ever translates into a bilateral series, especially at home.
What South Africa have suffered in this series is not a choke but a full-blown meltdown. While bowling, they haven’t been able to rein in Virat Kohli, which in itself is a reason for a team to lose against India. But more importantly, they have surrendered to India’s wrist-twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav while batting. Out of the 28 South African wickets that have fallen, 21 have been to wrist spin. India have scored 692 runs so far in this series and 318 have come from Virat Kohli’s willow.
By taking a 3-0 lead, India have already done something they have never done before in a bilateral ODI series in South Africa – avoiding a defeat. A win or a draw would be enough for them to go one step further. AB de Villiers has been included in the South African squad but there is yet to be a confirmation as to whether or not he will be playing at Wanderers. Apart from this, what stands in India’s way is the Wanderers itself, a traditionally difficult venue for any away side due to the cauldron-like atmosphere that can build in the stadium.