New Delhi: Roll your memories back to January 17 when ‘this’ Team India, touted to break the South African jinx, lost the first two Test matches in the series against Faf du Plessis‘ men. Virat Kohli was amid criticisms for his team selections, while the batsmen were condemned for their dismal performance in the two matches despite the bowler’s effort in revival. Three weeks later, they come a full circle back to Wanderers, the ‘tricky’ venue that gave birth to a rejuvenated India, inspiring them to scalp four back-to-back victories in the tour – one Test and three ODIs. And now Virat Kohli-led India stand a step away from a historic win on Pink Day.
On the back of an inspiring third Test win on a “challenging” Johannesburg track, India stunned the hosts by six wickets to break their Durban jinx and then at SuperSport Park, Kohli’s army chased down an embarrassing target of 118 runs amid a bizarre lunch break call by the umpires to win the Centurion ODI by nine wickets, finally at Cape Town, the skipper’s 34th ODI ton ensured that the Men in Blue return with at least on hand on a silverware. Ergo, India are 3-0 up in the six-match series and as history beckons at Wanderers.
On Saturday afternoon, India will be back to Johannesburg, this time to their Test redemption. A win at Wanderers will make Kohli-led Men in Blue, the first Indian side to clinch an ODI series against South Africa in their own backyard. Also, the 4-0 lead in the series will assure themselves of the top spot in the ICC ODI Rankings.
India have played a total of four ODI series in the Rainbow Nation against the Proteas side and have failed to clinch victory each time. Their closest attempt to series victory came back in 2010-11, when MS Dhoni-led India had claimed a 2-1 lead only to later lose the five-ODI series by 2-3.
However, there is a bump in the road. India will be eyeing series victory on South African cricket’s favourite day – the Pink Day. Till date, South Africa have played six Pink ODIs and have remained invincible in the jersey, with AB de Villiers being the ‘beast in pink’ on each of those instances. That includes his blistering 44-ball 149 against West Indies in 2015, which history remembers it to be the fastest ODI century; and also India’s 141-run defeat in December 2013.
Will history dance to the African rhythm or will ‘this’ Men in Blue break South African invincibility on Pink Day?