The series is still alive and South Africa finally found a way to attack the Indian spinners just when everything seemed lost. As the teams head towards Port Elizabeth for the 5th ODI in the series, there are some questions to answer for both teams and for the first time, India is feeling the pressure. Can South Africa capitalize on this opening and make a comeback into the series or will India resume business as usual?
The hosts looked dead and buried as a fourth consecutive defeat loomed large but a bit of luck and some brilliant batting helped South Africa pull off an impressive victory. The bowling at the start of the match was a little underwhelming as Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan threatened to absolutely crush the South Africans.
A timely break in the match, though, allowed the South Africans to come out renewed and they eventually kept Indians down to 289. The prospect of chasing down 330-350 was very real at one point of time and so 289 was definitely something the South Africans would have been very glad about.
That was still more runs than the South Africans have scored this series, though, and so the start was important. As it turned out, 102 for 4 with de Villiers out and Miller struggling against the spin, one more wicket could have been curtains for South Africa.
Chahal got one to go past Miller and clean bowled him but the replays showed he overstepped. From then on, Miller, Klaasen, and then Phehlukwayo just kept on clearing the boundary with ease to eventual chase down the revised target with ease.
AB de Villiers scored 26 but he was the one who started the assault on the spinners and showed that South Africa would be fighting back this time. His return has made a huge difference to the team and we are sure this kind of energy will flow through to their next matches as well.
The South Africans know that the rain helped them out considerably in the fourth match and that is something that they do not want to rely on. A similar wet forecast is in place for the final ODI and the advantage could easily lie with India in the next match.
It required a supreme effort from the South Africans to be able to win this match and they definitely want to make things easier next time around. For a start, they need to find a way past Virat Kohli who was completely at ease as he stroked 75 and looked set for yet another hundred.
Their tactic of leaving out Imran Tahir worked pretty well too but whether they can continue to depend on a similar all-pace attack for another match in a row is something that remains to be seen. We don’t expect any changes in the playing eleven for this match from the hosts.
Some very strange decisions from India played a huge role in deciding the ultimate outcome of the match. For starters, they lost the services of Kedar Jadhav and then picked Shreyas Iyer instead of Manish Pandey. Iyer has done well at the top of the order while Pandey is much better suited to providing power later in the inning.
India also chose to bat first knowing fully well that the rain will play a part later in the match. DLS favors the team batting second and to let that advantage go was probably being a little overconfident. The last thing we found it very hard to explain was the persistence Virat showed with his spinners.
Yes, they have done well in the past but to ignore Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah completely at the death was just inexcusable. The pair was recently rated as the best death bowling duo by Steve Smith and have won many matches for India from this situation.
The fifth ODI is an opportunity to rectify those mistakes. India will once again be faced with the prospect of playing five bowlers and no Kedar Jadhav to give them any leeway. Hardik Pandya bowled better in the last match than he had in the previous two matches but he continues to remain a liability.
India also has to decide about playing their two spinners in conditions where rain may make it difficult for them to grip the ball. We expect India to go in with the same team and not react too aggressively to the loss but hopefully, they will get their tactics right.
The batting form of Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan is something to behold at the moment but the rest of the players need to stand up and be counted. Ajinkya Rahane seems to be struggling with pacing his innings while Rohit Sharma is just a pale shadow of himself at the moment. MS Dhoni does not have the power game he once did and even though he can reliably be counted upon to score at a run a ball, hoping for too much more is a mistake.
We hope that Manish Pandey is given a chance instead of Shreyas Iyer but that would be unfair to the incumbent who has just got one chance.
India has been doing very well in this series but they are a side with some serious flaws. This loss will jolt them into action but we are not sure if they have the tactical flexibility to respond in the appropriate manner.
India : Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer/Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah cricinfo
South Africa : Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram (c), JP Duminy, AB de Villiers, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi/Imran Tahir
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