Rohit Sharma v Kagiso Rabada and the other key battles that could decide the fifth ODI between South Africa and India

Ashish Peter 12/02/2018
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The battle between Rohit and Rabada will be one to keep an eye on.

Stakes will be high when South Africa and India meet in the fifth ODI of the six-match series at Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

With a 3-1 lead, India will be looking to seal their maiden one-day series triumph on South African soil while the hosts will know that nothing less than a victory will do for them.

Here, we look at the key battles which could decide the fate of the clash.

AB de Villiers V India’s wrist-spinners

The South Africans have dearly missed AB de Villiers’s mastery against the spinners in the first-half of the series as India established their dominance. There are not many more destructive batsmen in the world against the spinning ball than the 33-year-old and if he gets stuck in on Tuesday, the spin-twins could be in for another testing evening.

Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal meanwhile will be hoping that their display at the Wanderers was just an off-day and that they can re-establish their superiority on the South Africans. For that, they will need to subdue De Villiers first.

Kuldeep will have his task cut out against AB de Villiers.

Kuldeep will have his task cut out against AB de Villiers.

ROHIT SHARMA V KAGISO RABADA

Rohit Sharma has had a tour to forget so far having failed to register a single fifty in eight innings now. It has simply not worked for the Mumbai-based man, be it in the Test series or now the ODIs.

Six out of his eight dismissals have come against South Africa’s young pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada. He has a combined total of only 40 runs in the four games so far and will have to clear the Rabada hurdle at the start if he is to get a big one on Tuesday.

Rohit has been Rabada's bunny so far.

Rohit has been Rabada’s bunny so far.

HASHIM AMLA V INDIA’S PACERS

Hashim Amla has not been uprooting any trees in the series either with 33 being his highest score. He has been dismissed twice by Jasprit Bumrah and once by Bhuvneshwar Kumar as he has found it difficult to get past the new-ball stage.

India’s new-ball pairing has been successful in subduing the Proteas veteran so far but you wouldn’t put it past Amla to turn the scales on Tuesday.

Amla has not had his own way against India's pacers.

Amla has not had his own way against India’s pacers.

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Proteas' increasing confidence and other talking points ahead of the fifth ODI between India and South Africa

Ashish Peter 12/02/2018
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South Africa will have their tails up after victory in the PinkDay ODI.

South Africa and India will meet in the fifth ODI at Port Elizabeth on Tuesday with the series well and truly alive.

Aiden Markram’s men secured a thrilling five-wicket win at Johannesburg has set up an exciting finish with two games remaining with India currently leading the six-match series 3-1.

Here, we look at the key talking points ahead of the penultimate ODI.

HAVE SOUTH AFRICA COME TO TERMS WITH WRIST-SPIN?

It was India’s two wrist-spinners who were at the forefront as the visitors stormed to victories in the first three one-dayers. They were completely on top of the Proteas batsmen as they shared 21 wickets between themselves. However, at Johannesburg, both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav came in for some heavy punishment as South Africa romped to victory.

They did have a wet outfield to contend with which made the task of gripping the ball just a bit harder but it remains to be seen if they will be able to repeat their heroics from the first three ODIs.

It remains to be seen if the spin-twins can bounce back after taking a hammering.

It remains to be seen if the spin-twins can bounce back after taking a hammering.


INDIA’S MIDDLE-ORDER WOES

When India’s middle-order was finally called to action at Johannesburg, they floundered. From a position of strength at 200-2 in 34 overs, India came undone in the death overs as they finished with 289-7 on the board.

Virat Kohli will want the likes of MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya to step up to the plate when it comes to acceleration in the death overs. Both have been subdued with the bat in hand so far and it was what cost the Men in Blue in the fourth ODI.

The likes of Pandya will need to step up with the bat for India.

The likes of Pandya will need to step up with the bat for India.


HOSTS RIDING CONFIDENCE WAVE

The Proteas looked dead and buried at 3-0 with injuries to key personnel only compounding matters. However, AB de Villiers’ return and victory in front of a packed house at the Wanderers on PinkDay will do the confidence in the dressing room a world of good.

Expect the hosts to be a different beast altogether with confidence pumping through their veins again.

The Proteas will be a different beast altogether after the last win.

The Proteas will be a different beast altogether after the last win.


KEDAR/IYER DILEMMA FOR KOHLI

One headache for Kohli going into Port Elizabeth will be deciding who bats in the number five position. Shreyas Iyer played in the last game but he did not fare well, scoring just 18. He was also guilty of dropping a sitter off David Miller which proved to be huge turning point in the game.

It was Kedar Jadhav who was preferred in the first three matches but he got only one opportunity to bat, managing to notch just a single run to his name. His part-time off-spin provides something different though than the wrist-spinners and that could be the deciding factor given how the latter fared at Durban.

Jadhav's off-spin could tilt the balance in his favour.

Jadhav’s off-spin could tilt the balance in his favour.

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Kane Williamson an injury doubt for T20I clash against England in Wellington

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New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has emerged as an injury doubt for Tuesday’s Twenty20 against England in Wellington.

Williamson revealed at his pre-match press conference that he was feeling soreness in his back, with batsman Henry Nicholls called up as a precaution.

“I’ve got a few niggles, a little bit of niggling in my back… Henry is in as cover for those reasons,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to taking a full part in training and hope I should be fit for tomorrow.”

Williamson’s opposite number, England skipper Eoin Morgan, has question marks over his involvement after missing the previous match against Australia.

Morgan injured his groin during training at the MCG and then joined his team on a frustrating travel day across the Tasman Sea, with a five-hour delay in Melbourne airport followed by three-and-a-half hours in the air.

He will be assessed by medical staff before any decision is made.

“Morgs is a big player for them, the leader of the group, but at the same time they’ll be backing their depth.

“They have lots of exciting, talented players and with Jos stepping up (from vice-captain) they be backing themselves.”

Only one of New Zealand or England can join Australia in the final of the tri-series, with Australia winning the curtain-raiser against the Black Caps followed by back-to-back games against Morgan’s men.

“It’s a big opportunity for us and for England,” he said.

“We want to get on the board in the tri-series and it’s very important we play good cricket.

“We know England are a dangerous side; Australia have got off to a great start and come up with the wins but that doesn’t make England any less dangerous.”

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