New Delhi, Feb 10: In an interesting match today, India has won the toss and elected to bat first. India Vs South Africa fourth ODI will be a closely watched match for several reasons.
India skipper Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat in the fourth one-dayer -- the Pink ODI dedicated for raising awareness about breast cancer, against South Africa at the New Wanderers Stadium here on Saturday.
Already 3-0 up in the the six-match ODI series, India were forced to make one change to their playing XI with Shreyas Iyer replacing an injured Kedar Jadhav.
For the hosts struggling with the loss of key players to injuries, star batsman AB de Villiers returned to the playing XI after recovering from a finger injury, replacing Khaya Zondo while leg-spinner Imran Tahir made way for paceman Morne Morkel.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Mahendra Singh Dhoni(WK), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram (Captain), Jean-Paul Duminy, AB de Villiers, Heinrich Klaasen(WK), David Miller, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Lungisani Ngidi, Morne Morkel.
India's indomitable cricket team looks set for a landmark series triumph but an injury-ravaged South Africa would hope for some A B de Villiers magic to halt the visitors' charge in the fourth one-dayer, here on Saturday.
With an unassailable 3-0 lead in hand, India need just one more win to claim their maiden ODI series triumph on the South African soil. The closest they came was in 2010-11, when under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, they shot into a 2-1 lead only to lose the five-match series 3-2.
India had previously broken into unchartered territory at Newlands when, for the first time since they began touring here in 1992-93, they won three matches in a bilateral ODI engagement in South Africa.
A fourth consecutive win will also cement their spot as the no.1 side in ICC ODI Rankings.
Before the third ODI, Shikhar Dhawan had highlighted that the team wants to win every game ahead of them, building on victory in the third Test here, and there would be no complacency in the dressing room.
Indeed then, Virat Kohli lifted his side to another dominant win with an immaculate 34th ODI century and later spoke of replicating the same intensity to wrap up the series with two matches remaining.
The fact that Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have now accounted for 21 out of 30 available wickets is also a driving force behind this confidence. Despite practicing with at least five different local wrist spinners at Newlands, the Proteas' batting line-up still couldn't contend with India's first-choice spin duo.
Whether this will change on Saturday remains to be seen. South Africa may have slight cause for optimism as de Villiers was, on Thursday, added to their ODI squad for the remainder three matches.
The star batsman was ruled out of the first three ODIs owing to a finger injury he had sustained during the third Test. However, the hosts are still circumspect about his chances of playing and as such Cricket South Africa didn't send out any official media information ahead of this game.
One of David Miller or Khaya Zondo will make way for him in the playing eleven. Unsurprisingly, despite the downturn, Aiden Markram will continue leading the side.
This match is of vital importance for South Africa in their home season. It is the 'Pink ODI', played for the awareness against breast cancer and for the benefit of those suffering from the disease.
It was first held in 2011, and this will be the sixth such occasion. In fact, the Proteas have never lost when playing in their unique pink jersey. De Villiers has a handsome record on Pink Days. In 2015, he had smashed 149 off just 44 balls against the West Indies.
In 2013, when India were first part of this Pink Day celebration, de Villiers had scored 77 off 47 balls. South Africa had amassed 358/4 on a Wanderers' wicket full of pace and bounce, and India had lost by 141 runs.
That day Rohit Sharma had struggled against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, scoring just 18 off 43 balls. The opener's travails have extended to this tour as well. In 11 ODIs now in South Africa, the three-time double centurion averages a paltry 12.10. His form is the only pressing concern for the Indian team, yet not so much that he will be left out of the playing eleven.
With the Men in Blue looking to wrap up the series, Kohli is expected to field an unchanged line-up once again. India have an average record at this ground. In seven ODIs here, they have won thee and lost four, including the infamous 2003 World Cup final against Australia.
Also, as opposed to their unbeaten Test record against South Africa here, India have lost 3 out of 4 ODIs they have played against the hosts at Wanderers. Their only cause for cheer against the Proteas here came in January 2011, when Munaf Patel took 4-29 to lead India to a thrilling one-run win.
Thanks to Kohli's imperious consistency and the terrorising form of their wrist spinners, that lopsided record might just be about to change.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Aiden Markram (capt), Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), AB de Villiers.
News24Bureau with Agencies