India look to wrap it up in style

Virat Kohli

Calcutta/Port Elizabeth: Having lost the previous game, India are looking to squash the hosts' revival hopes and seal their maiden ODI series victory on South African shores when they clash in the fifth one-dayer at St George's Park on Tuesday.

After a smooth sailing in the first three ODIs where they dominated South Africa mainly via wrist spin, the rain and wet conditions came to the Proteas' rescue in Johannesburg as they chase down the target successfully after overs were reduced.

And for the first time in the ODI series, South African batsmen could dominate wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. There is rain threat for Tuesday's match as well.

For Chahal, he would certainly make sure not to bowl a no-ball again to not just David Miller, but all other Proteas batsmen.

It was only after Miller got a reprieve post Chahal's no-ball that Heinrich Klaasen and he went ballistic, getting the big strokes in almost every over that took South Africa home and kept the series alive.

Yet, a rain-truncated innings is hardly evidence enough that South Africa have learnt how to contend with the wrist spin of Chahal and Kuldeep.

Additionally, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were not used to great effect as captain Virat Kohli chose to rely on the spinners, even when they were unable to respond to the Proteas' aggression.

In this light, India's team selection will come into focus before the fifth ODI gets started. There are still question marks about the fitness of Kedar Jadhav, who suffered a hamstring injury in Cape Town and missed the previous game.

Albeit a part-timer, in his absence, India lose a reliable bowling alternative particularly if Hardik Pandya takes a pounding and cannot complete his quota of overs.

Jadhav is adept at bowling slow spin and mixing it up well with Chahal and Yadav. India do not have many fall-back options in Jadhav's absence. Shreyas Iyer is known to practising legbreak and had bowled an over against Sri Lanka in his debut series.

But he doesn't provide a reliable option like Jadhav does. Kohli himself is the other contender, but he bowls seam-up.

In terms of batting, Ajinkya Rahane has scored 11 and eight since making a comeback 79 at No.4.

Pandya's forgettable tour with the bat continues, with scores of 14 and nine in his last two outings.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 42 not out was the only saving grace for the middle-order as India struggled to finish well in Johannesburg.

The series scoreline has conveniently hid the fact that India have a top-heavy batting order, despite the poor form of Rohit Sharma, with the middle order not quite tested.

Kohli (393 runs) and Shikhar Dhawan (271 runs) have scored nearly thrice the number of runs put together by the remaining batsmen (239) and it ought to be a cause of major worry for the Indian think tank.

This fact will not go overlooked and South Africa will be keen to exploit the Indian line-up's frailty and dismiss Kohli and Dhawan cheaply to gain an early advantage.

It remains to be seen what bowling combination the hosts will go in with.

Match starts: 4.30pm (IST).


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