Indian-Proteas series decider promises high-octane contest
With the ODI cricket series tantalisingly poised 2-2, India will seek to keep the momentum when they go into what promises to be a thrilling series decider against South Africa on Sunday with both the teams having enough firepower to clinch the title.
In the cat-and-mouse contest for supremacy in the rubber, the home team has managed to twice catch up with the tourists and therefore seem hold a very slight advantage going into the last match.
The winning momentum gained by India in the penultimate tie in Chennai on October 22 by comprehensively beating South Africa by 35 runs should stand them in good stead in the needle contest.
Also the fact that India had won all three previous contests (2 in 1996 and the last one in November, 2005) against South Africa at the Wankhede Stadium, which is expected to be jam-packed with a boisterous crowd to support them, should also give the home team advantage.
While both teams have been undone by injuries to key players, India have been able to fill the breach left by the unavailability of top off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin after the opening Kanpur game more effectively with veteran Harbhajan Singh filling in the gap admirably.
South Africa had lost the services of their key all rounder Jean-Paul Duminy for the last two games due to a hand injury sustained in the third match of the series in Rajkot on October 18.
Fast bowler Morne Morkel too sustained a leg injury while turning in a match-winning performance of 4 for 39 in Rajkot and missed the Chennai game and his absence also hurt the visitors badly.
Replacement Chris Morris was not as effective in doing the job of curtailing the run-rate as well as taking wickets as his more illustrious teammate had done in the first three games.
But Morkel is unlikely to feature in the final game as the visitors will want him fit and running for the Test matches starting November 5 in Mohali.
The return to top form of Virat Kohli, who struck a fine half century (77) in vain in the third match and then made a brilliant 140-ball 138 in his flamboyant fashion at Chennai bodes well for the hosts.Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who too is in good nick with 239 runs in his kitty which is one run better than the former, and the steady Ajinkya Rahane have been the fulcrum around which the Indian batting has revolved.Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has also been among the runs (185 from 4 games at 61.66 per innings) and the half century (53) by Suresh Raina in Chennai after his string of two ducks earlier in the rubber should be the much-needed boost ahead of the needle contest.