India and South Africa return to Centurion, the venue where the tour began, to play the final game of the ODI series. With the series already in their pocket and history created, India will be not be under pressure of winning again. But on the other hand, South Africa will be waiting to prove that they can play the Indian spinners by winning the sixth ODI on Friday.
Virat Kohli-led India won the fifth ODI at Port Elizabeth by 73 runs and took an unassailable 4-1 lead in the series. In doing so, India scripted history by winning their first ever bilateral series in South Africa. After losing the Test series by 2-1, the comprehensive win in the ODI format has not only boosted the morale of the Indian camp but has also taken India to No.1 spot in ICC team rankings.
But for Kohli, it is not enough. In a post-match presentation after the match, the Indian skipper made it clear that he will be gunning for victory in the final ODI of the series which is set to be played at Centurion on Friday. “We want to win 5-1 for sure, that doesn’t change, but there’ll be a chance for others to step in as well. The first priority is to win and we’ll do anything to do that again,” Kohli said.
For South Africa, it will be more about getting the momentum before the two teams begin the three-match T20I series. Not only they have lost the series to India, they have also lost their ODI top ranking to them. The morale of the team is low after an abysmal performance with the bat, especially again India’s spin attack, and with injuries to Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, South Africa appear more vulnerable than they have in recent years.
India will be hoping that they could repeat their performance from the second ODI which was also played at the same venue. India bowled out South Africa for 118 and later won by nine wickets. The Proteas were all over the place against the India’s spin pair of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. The six times the two teams have met on the ground, India has won 3 and lost 2, while one ended in a no-result.
There is also an opportunity for India to give some players a chance to play the game. Manish Pandey, Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur could be included in the playing XI for the game. While Indian middle order has not impressed in this series, this could be another opportunity for them to bring some stability in the Indian line-up.
There is still a chance for South Africa to improve the series margin to 4-2 with a win in the final game. Early wickets will once again be key for them. In the current series, one of India’s top three batsman has scored century in each of the game which shows that South Africa failed to pick early wickets, which gives India the platform for a big total. Though death bowling has been good from the home side, the batsmen have failed to chase down total of below 300 on batting friendly pitches.
AB de Villiers will once again be the key batsman of the line-up with other not having the vast experience as him. Hashim Amla has been the best batsman for them in this series and wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen has also impressed with his big hitting technique. But all of that needs to combine in a team effort on Friday is South Africa need to win a game and go into the T20I series with the momentum on their side.