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 sixth and final ODI today.
The visitors have already won the six-match series 4-1, after victories in Durban, Centurion, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Their only loss came at the rain-affected fourth ODI in Johannesburg. 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.
Momentum, the keyHaving won the series, India would like to carry on with the momentum, especially with the three-match T20I series to follow soon after. 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.
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 as well. Some rest will do both of them some good especially ahead of the next contest.
No back up for pacersAlternately, India's second line of pace attack needs some attention. Since that Sri Lanka tour, the Men in Blue have played 20 ODIs and the Kumar-Bumrah duo has not featured together in only one of them — at Bengaluru against Australia.
One way to look at this is the splendid job they have done as the foremost new-ball pairing in limited-overs' cricket. The other way, of course, is that Team India is too dependent on them and should look to build back-up options. Mohammed Shami has only played three ODIs since the 2015 World Cup. Shardul Thakur, the fourth pacer in this current squad, has only ever played in two ODIs.
'We've not been in this tough position before'Centurion: South Africa opener Hashim Amla said his team is not used to the hammering that it has received in the ongoing ODI series against India and the emphatic nature of defeat has taken the Proteas back to the drawing board ahead of the World Cup next year. "I don't think we have been in this position in the ODI format. In 2008 in England, we didn't have a good one-day series, but there are always positives to take from it," Amla said.