AB de Villiers has made a comeback to the South African team for the last three ODI matches against a rampant Indian side after missing the first half of the series due to a finger injury. However, his availability for the Pink ODI at the Wanderers, for whom he is an ambassador, is still in doubt.
When de Villiers was declared unfit for the series opener in Durban, he was the first big name to have been ruled out of this series, but the hosts’ fortune went south ever since as their other accomplished batsmen - skipper Faf du Plessis and wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock - also had to call an early goodbye to the tour with a finger and wrist injury respectively. Although 2014 Under-19 World Cup-winning skipper Aiden Markram took over the role of captaincy since the second ODI, that was not enough to change the team’s fortune as the Indian wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal and Indian skipper Virat Kohli wrecked havoc to help India take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
In a hope to lift the hosts' sagging fortunes, the selectors, after a meeting in Johannesburg on Thursday, confirmed the former skipper’s return to the 15-member squad, but a South African cricket spokesperson told Cricbuzz that AB’s fitness will be assessed on the eve of the fourth ODI at the Wanderers. If de Villiers will be able to pass the fitness test, that would obviously be a much-needed boost for the batting unit, against whom the Indian wrist-spinning pair have taken 21 wickets in the series at an unbelievable average of 9.05.
If the Royal Challengers Bangalore player takes part in the fourth ODI, he is likely to bat at No. 3 or 4 which meant JP Duminy will go down the order. At the same time, the hosts will also have to do away with either of David Miller or Khaya Zondo to accommodate the talisman in the line-up. However, if the hosts decide to include Farhaan Behardien in the squad, both could miss out from the starting XI.
Although de Villiers had already led the South African team and kept wickets in the past, he will not do either of them this time, which means a longer rope to be given to Titans keeper Heinrich Klaasen despite his failure as a batsman to counter Indian spinners in the Newlands ODI.
ODI squad: Aiden Markram (capt), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khaya Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen (wk).