Embattled South Africa received a shot in the arm after AB de Villiers, the talismanic batsman, was on Thursday (February 8) named in the squad for the last three One-Day Internationals against India.
De Villiers, one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket, missed the first three encounters of the six-match series with a finger injury. In his absence, South Africa have been all at sea against the wrist-spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Trailing 0-3, South Africa must win the remaining games, starting from the fourth match in Johannesburg on Saturday, to come away with a share of the spoils.
De Villiers, 33, averages a spectacular 54.06 in 225 ODIs, in which he has stacked up 9515 runs at a strike-rate of 101.07. He picked up the finger injury during the final match of the three-Test series, also at the Wanderers, late last month, forcing him to sit out the first three ODIs.
The former skipper will join the team at practice on Friday, after which a call on his availability for the fourth ODI will be taken.
South Africa will be desperately hoping that de Villiers pulls up fine for game four. They are already without Faf du Plessis, their skipper, and Quinton de Kock, the wicketkeeper-batsman, for the rest of the ODIs as well as the three-match Twenty20 International series. Both men are also nursing finger injuries.
Despite having been outclassed in all three games – apart from Chahal and Kuldeep, India have ridden on the brilliance of Virat Kohli who has made two hundreds in the series so far – South Africa have desisted from making any changes to their squad. The selectors are banking on the same personnel to effect a dramatic turnaround.
The squad: Aiden Markram (capt), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khaya Zondo.