South Africa kept the ODI series with India alive with a wonderful win in Johannesburg on Saturday and they will look to continue their progression when the two sides meet for match five of the six in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Although they suffered defeat in the fourth game over the weekend, India head to PE knowing that they will win the series should they win this match which is an excellent position for them to be in.
For the first time in the series the South African batsmen got to grips with the Indian spinners although with the rain that fell and the altitude on offer in the Highveld conditions probably were not in the favour of the Indians. It will be interesting to see how South Africa take on those same spinners in these conditions.
South Africa bowled very well in Johannesburg too which bodes well for them and there are signs that they might be getting their act together with their backs firmly against the wall. It is important they begin this match well though because they don’t want to be letting India get away from them in what is a must win game.
For the first time in this ODI series India were challenged in Johannesburg and you would have to suggest that their response was not the most convincing. We can cut them some slack because conditions went against them but they will still want to show a little more than they did should the pressure come on here.
India have a couple of things in their favour heading into this one. They do still have two demon leg spinners who have had the wood on South Africa for much of the series and they have the one ground in South Africa which should suit them both with the bat and the ball. They will want to win this and get the series done rather than go to a decider.
South Africa are expected to bring a spinner back into their ranks but which seamer the spinner comes in for remains to be seen. Andile Phehlukwayo went around the park in Johannesburg so he could be in most danger.
There is no suggestion that Kedar Jadhav is fit having missed the previous match so India are likely to be unchanged unless there is another injury or illness that has not been disclosed to everyone.
St George’s Park
This will be the 40th ODI to be held at this Port Elizabeth venue. South Africa have featured in 32 of them with 20 wins to 11 defeats with a no result. India have a wretched record here. They have played five time on this ground and lost the lot.
The pitch at St George’s Park is on the slower side and will certainly suit the spinners but if batsmen get in the relatively short boundaries can see them pile on the runs. It is usually a decent cricket wicket even if it is a little on the slow side.
I’m on India to win this series so I’m effectively on them to win this match but I will take them again because I think these conditions will suit their leg spinners perfectly. We’ve seen that they haven’t needed turning or slow tracks to be effective but they have one here which should further enhance their impact. South Africa got fortunate with the conditions in the last game but all things being equal I expect the dominance of the first three matches to be restored here.
I’m also going to back Shikhar Dhawan to make 50. Had Kohli not sold him down the river in Durban he would be on four straight 50s for the series. As it is he has three 50s in a row so the 7/4 that he bags another one here just looks too big to ignore.
I’m not going to ignore the performance of Heinrich Klaasen from the previous match either. To perform as well as he did so early in his international career bodes well and with the South African top order not firing at all in this series he may well get himself into a position to top score again. He top scored in Johannesburg and was not out so a repeat of that could see him land the leading scoring honours again at 7/1.
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