We look at the key talking points as the top two ranked ODI sides resume their battle.
HOSTS’ INJURY CRISIS DEEPENS
South Africa had been struck a big blow before the start of the series when they lost AB De Villiers to injury for the first three matches.
They received another jolt when skipper Faf du Plessis was ruled out for the remainder of the series after a brilliant hundred in the loss at Durban.
Things have now gone from bad to worse with the Proteas losing a third frontline batsman in Quinton de Kock to a finger injury. Though De Villiers is nearing a return, the hosts will be hoping that the other two can regain their fitness in time for the upcoming Tests against Australia.
It will be Hashim Amla who will have to shoulder the responsibility of propping up an uninspiring batting card.
PROTEAS FACE ANOTHER TRIAL BY WRIST-SPIN
In the two defeats so far, South Africa’s vulnerability against the wrist-spin of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav has been the common theme. Thirteen of their 18 wickets to fall have come against India’s newest spin-twins.
South Africa’s problems against the turning ball have been compounded by Amla, their best player of spin, being dismissed cheaply before the spinners have come on in both games.
Chahal and Kuldeep have managed to immediately shackle the Proteas batsmen from the very get go and their willingness to give the ball some air and mix up the speeds has worked like a treat.
This battle will once again be the decisive factor on Wednesday and the hosts will need to work out a strategy to take on the spin-twins to have any chance.
CAN SOUTH AFRICA TEST INDIA’S MIDDLE-ORDER?
If there is one area in the team India are still trying to figure out the best combination for in the lead up to the 2019 ICC World Cup, it is their lower middle-order.
South Africa’s bowlers will be hoping to get in India’s untested middle-order in fairly early but for that they will have to stop an in-form Kohli.
ROHIT SHARMA DUE A BIG ONE
India’s deputy skipper Rohit Sharma has been in a rich vein of form when it comes to limited-overs cricket in 2017 where he registered six ODI centuries including a world-record third career double ton.
However, 2018 has not been kind to the Indian opener so far after he failed to cross the 50-run mark in each of the six innings he has played on the South African tour so far.
78 runs came in his four Test innings on the tour while he has scored 20 and 15 in the opening two ODIs so far.
Rohit will be itching to get out of this mini-lean patch and show once again why he is considered one of the most dangerous limited-overs batsmen around.
Eoin Morgan insists England have not forgotten about Tymal Mills and overlooked him in Australia for his own good.
A year ago the Sussex seamer was one of the hottest properties on the Twenty20 circuit, with his blend of searing left-arm pace and slower balls earning a life-changing £1.4 million deal in the Indian Premier League.
But the 25-year-old, who can only play the shortest form due to a congenital back condition, is currently at a crossroads.
Having landed a bumper payday with Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2017, he failed to attract any bids in last month’s IPL draft and suffered a further setback when he was dropped by Hobart Hurricanes for the semi-final and final of the Big Bash.
He arrived in Tasmania as a marquee overseas signing but was axed after conceding the most runs in the competition, leaking 389 at almost 10 an over.
“He’s gone through a tough couple of months, which everybody can go through,” said Morgan, whose England face Australia at Mills’ adopted home ground, the Bellerive Oval, on Wednesday.
“The way he comes back from the sort of form he’s in, or the luck that he’s running at the moment, will determine how he goes over the next few years.”
With just four England caps under his belt, Mills would be forgiven for fretting over his international prospects – particularly with the next World T20 more than two years away.
But Morgan was quick to emphasise that his current absence was a considered decision about the player’s own development rather than a knee-jerk reaction to a dip in form.
“We certainly see him as a guy who can gain a huge amount of experience playing in tournaments around the world,” said Morgan.
“Due to his fitness background we probably wouldn’t consider him until a World Cup year – pulling him out of a Big Bash just for a tri-series. We feel like getting a long string of games together and having a set plan could be better than travelling more with us, maybe playing or not playing.
“We feel him committing to one side, playing and doing his thing on the road is the best option at the moment. I haven’t spoken to him but that was communicated to him through (national selector) Jimmy Whitaker quite a while ago, maybe in the summer.”
Fast bowlers command respect on the cricket field as they have the ability to cause harm with the ball in hand. And if they have height to go with their pace, then it’s impossible to keep your eyes off them.
Cricket has had its fair share of genuinely tall fast bowlers over the years. Their ability to extract extra bounce from any wicket makes them a captain’s delight and are therefore given a preference over other pacers.
This week, Australian quick Billy Stanlake produced a stunning spell of pace bowling against New Zealand, finishing with figures of 3-15 in Sydney.
With Stanlake’s height and pace the talk of the cricketing world, here we look at other tall fast bowlers still in operation international cricket.
MOHAMMAD IRFAN (216 cms, 7’1”)
The Pakistan left-arm fast bowler is the tallest cricketer in the world. He recently returned to domestic cricket after serving a six-month ban for failing to report offers from bookies to fix games during last year’s PSL.
He is one of the few tall quicks who can consistently bowl at 90mph even in Test matches. But he is approaching 36 and is unlikely to sustain his pace for long.
BILLY STANLAKE (204 cms, 6’8”)
Australia’s new wonderkid. He made his T20 and ODI debut last year but it’s against New Zealand in the ongoing T20 tri-series that Stanlake made an impact, beating opening batsmen Martin Guptill and Colin Munro through sheer pace. His speeds were up throughout the Big Bash League and it looks like Australia have found a long-term prospect in limited overs cricket.
BOYD RANKIN (204 cms, 6’8”)
The Northern Ireland seam bowler made his debut in 2007 and was part of the side that famously defeated Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. He switched to England to further his Test prospects and even played the 2014 Sydney Ashes match. He is now back in Ireland colours.
STEVEN FINN (201 cms, 6’7”)
A supremely talented fast bowler who hasn’t quite lived up to his potential. When the England pacer started his career, he was seriously quick but a spate of injuries – including stress fracture to his foot – and issues with his run-up have curtailed a once promising career. His height became a disadvantage for him in 2015 when he banged his head on a sign-post while walking down the street, resulting in a gash on his head.
JASON HOLDER (201 cms, 6’7”)
The West Indies seamer was made captain of the side at the age of 23. He uses his height to compensate for the lack of pace and is one of the more consistent performers in the squad.