South Africa will most certainly miss the services of injured fast bowler Morne Morkel for the all-important fifth and final match of their ODI cricket series against India in Mumbai on Sunday, said senior team member Hashim Amla on Saturday.
“I don’t think Morne is fit enough to play tomorrow (Sunday). He bowled a bit in the nets and probably we will take the final call tomorrow (Sunday), but I don’t think he will be fit,” Amla told reporters at the Wankhede Stadium.
Morkel picked up 4 for 39 with his superb death bowling in the third game of the series in Rajkot on October 18 despite bowling with a leg injury, but it prevented him from taking the field in the fourth match at Chennai, that India won by 35 runs to square the series 2-2.
Amla, also conceded that the absence of another injured player — all rounder Jean-Paul Duminy, who was ruled out of the final two ODIs after injuring his hand in Rajkot — did affect the balance of the side, but pointed out that no big
series has been won by banking only on 11 players in a 15-strong squad.
“He has (Duminy) been an unbelievable and consistent performer for us over the last couple of years. He adds great balance to the team with his off spinners as well. It has changed things a bit in the team but that’s what you have a squad for. No big series is ever won on 11 players, you usually have about 15 players contributing at different times. This is one of those times.
“Having seven frontline batsmen has been a working formula for us. Absence of JP does change things. Going into tomorrow’s (Sunday) game I don’t know that the captain and coach will decide,” he explained.
He was a bit puzzled when asked what would be the key that will decide the game, while hinting the team which holds the nerves better could emerge triumphant.
Asked about the deciding clash at a venue where South Africa had lost all three earlier ODIs, Amla said he was not aware of the history and predicted an interesting contest.
“I didn’t know it I don’t think it will make any difference, honestly. It’s an important game regardless. It has been a very close and exciting One-Day series.
“If you look at the tour itself it has been nice to win 4 (including two T20 Internationals) out of 6. It’s been really good going from our side. Both teams have been extremely competitive in ODIs. Tomorrow will be an exciting game. Both teams have positives and things to work on.”
On his poor run in the series, Amla, who has just managed 66 runs in 4 ODI innings, hoped things would go his way on Sunday.
“Obviously I would have liked to have scored more runs, but you can’t score runs all the time. Certainly other guys in the team will get their chances to score. But it will be great if I can get some runs. You always try and contribute to the winning team and for the team’s success and hopefully my time will come.
“Every batter feels a big one is round the corner even if you score a hundred. In most of the innings I have managed to get a little bit of something going but then getting out all the time. Cricket is like that and for every batter next
innings is the most important one,” he added.
“Scoring a lot of runs and defending it, it’s no rocket science on how you win a game. You don’t know how the game is going to pan out. If we can play our best cricket – both teams have played good cricket at times – and for one of the teams to try and take the lead and make sure they remain calm under different circumstances.”
South Africa, incidentally, have never won a bilateral ODI series in India – losing thrice and squaring a rubber once in four previous attempts.
He said personally he was happy to see bowlers doing well at the back end of the innings due to the recent change in ODI rules.
“I think throughout the series start has been very important and most of the (times) teams have been almost 150 for 2 or something after 30 overs. It has been good going for the top order from both sides.
“Towards the back end it has changed a bit because we had been used to three-four years of having five men inside the circle. So, it has been good personally, because it has given bowlers a bit of chance at the back end of the game as earlier we were used to get big scores because of the extra guy inside the circle. Now scores have come down a bit. It has given the bowlers a bit more of the game in ODIs.”