Centurion, February 15: A historic series triumph sealed, India are expected to put their bench strength to test while a vanquished South Africa would aim for a consolatory win when the two sides square off in the sixth and final ODI, here on Friday (February 16).
With victory in the last game, India also confirmed their No 1 spot in the ICC ODI rankings, taking over from South Africa who were sitting atop at the start of this series.
Having won the series, India would like to carry on momentum, especially with the three-match T20I series to follow soon.
Yet, the visitors would also like to find a balance between going all out in a dead rubber and resting a few players keeping in mind a long overseas schedule later this year.
Numero Uno!! A fantastic series win by #TeamIndia🇮🇳 Impressive work by both the wrist spinners, @imkuldeep18 and @yuzi_chahal and a great Knock by @ImRo45. Keep it up, boys👍 pic.twitter.com/DgJlYSBAiP— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) February 13, 2018
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has nearly played non-stop since the limited-overs leg of the tour of Sri Lanka, featuring in 19 ODIs and six T20Is as well as two Tests on this tour.
Jasprit Bumrah too has played 20 ODIs since that Lanka tour, along with eight T20Is and his workload has only increased given that he played through the Test series here.
Alternately, India's second line of pace attack needs some attention. Mohammed Shami has only played three ODIs since the 2015 World Cup. Ever since he returned from injury, he has featured twice against West Indies (2017) and then once against Australia.
Shardul Thakur, the fourth pacer in this current squad, has only played in two ODIs. It suffices to say that India currently do not have a reliable second-choice pace attack and despite the success of Kumar-Bumrah combination, this aspect needs urgent attention.
The middle-order continues to be another area of focus. There has only been one half-century contributed from No 4-7 in this series. After Ajinkya Rahane's effort in Durban, only MS Dhoni came close at the Wanderers when he made a 42 not out off 43 balls.
Shreyas Iyer has got starts in both the matches he has played but failed to capitalise. Rahane too has fizzled out since his comeback at No 4. Hardik Pandya has scored 26 runs in four innings in this ODI series.
Either way, the Indian think-tank needs to pay more attention to their middle-order woes. Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik are in the squad and yet it is tough to see both of them get a game here. The Indian team opted not to train on Thursday.
South Africa, on the other hand, would want to finish this ODI series on a high and take fresh guard for the Twenty20 International series, which gets underway on February 18.
Teams (from): 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.
Match starts at: 4.30 pm IST
Live: Sony TEN 1 & HD