India face do-or-die battle against South Africa

India face do-or-die battle against South Africa

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India are faced with a must-win situation when they take on South Africa in the fourth One-Dayer at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. Senior tweaker Harbhajan Singh said the hosts will have to bowl smarter if they are to stay alive in the five-match series, even as skipper Mahendra Dhoni continues to fret on a perfect batting combination.

India will certainly hope that luck will be on their side against an opposition who hit the road running and has continued to fire on all cylinders as they clinched the preceding Twenty20 series convincingly before taking a 2-1 lead in the ODI series.

“Obviously, we are in a tricky situation. We have to win tomorrow to be in the series,” Harbhajan told reporters on match eve. “We have got the team which can turn things around. I want to say one thing that the team will be going all out to win the game tomorrow, and from there onwards, we will hopefully put up another good performance. Things can be different in one week’s time.”

India lost their way in the chase to lose the third game in Rajkot that left Dhoni ruing the lack of a settled middle and lower-middle order. Although Virat Kohli got runs after being moved up to his preferred No. 3 position, the lower order was shaky as Ajinkya Rahane appeared lost when dropped to No. 6. To compound the problem, Suresh Raina is struggling for form, having scored three runs from three matches.

However, Harbhajan backed the batsmen. “We have got such quality in our team that we can score runs on any track. They are all performers and they have won games for India. It is just a matter of time to get adjusted. It could be tomorrow and winning the series will be a great fun,” said the ‘Turbanator’.

Dhoni is in danger of losing a third straight limited-overs series after the 2-1 defeat against Bangladesh, followed by the preceding T20 series loss.

“Dhoni has been a brilliant captain for India. We won a brilliant game in Indore and in Rajkot we did not play as well. Hopefully things will change, and change from tomorrow,” Harbhajan said as he backed the skipper.

Harbhajan also clarified that Amit Mishra was available for the ODI. Leg-spinner Mishra has been summoned to appear before Bengaluru police in a week’s time after being booked for alleged assault of a woman in his hotel room in Bengaluru.

South Africa will miss in-form all-rounder JP Duminy who has been ruled out of the remaining two ODIs after suffering a hand injury while fielding off his own bowling in Rajkot. Top-order batsman Dean Elgar has been called as replacement. There are injury concerns surrounding fast bowler Morne Morkel, who bowled with an injured leg to return match-winning figures of 4-39 in Rajkot.

The match will begin at 13:30 IST on Thursday.

The squads:

India: MS Dhoni (capt), Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Mohit Sharma, Rohit Sharma, S Aravind, Gurkeerat Singh, Amit Mishra, Harbhajan Singh.

South Africa: AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf Du Plessis, David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris, Khaya Zondo, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada, Dean Elgar.

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