AB de Villiers is returning from an injury for the fourth ODI between India and South Africa.

In Stats: Can AB de Villiers Rescue South Africa’s Sinking Series?

On Saturday, Team India will have the opportunity to clinch a historic first-ever bilateral ODI series win in South Africa when they take on the hosts in the fourth ODI at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. Virat Kohli’s Men in Blue hold an unassailable 3-0 lead in the six-match series having registered convincing wins in Durban (by 6 wickets), Centurion (by 9 wickets) and most recently in Cape Town.

In ODI history, South Africa have a 45-32 win-loss record against India. South Africa have dominated India in bilateral series between the two teams in recent times too, having clinched each of the last three series.

Since their re-admission to international cricket in 1991, South Africa have played a total of 42 bilateral series at home, and have been on the losing side on only 6 occasions. The last time South Africa lost a bilateral ODI series at home was back in 2013 when Pakistan prevailed 2-1; since then, the Proteas have won 8 consecutive series at home.

Given how much of a force South Africa have been – at home and against India, it should count as a special feat if Virat Kohli and his lads are able to go on and win the series.

South African Batsmen Appalling

South Africa have been competitive consistently – most definitely in the 50-over format where they have the highest win percentage among all teams. It is therefore that one finds their performance in the first three matches of this series extremely disappointing. The batsmen have been dismal; against the two Indian spinners, the South African batsmen have been found woefully inadequate. A lot of their undoing has to do with their messed-up approach, lack of clarity on how to tackle the spinners, which has eventually resulted in poor shot selection.

De Villiers Boost

Heading into the match at the Wanderers, the hosts will heave a sigh of relief knowing their batting will be strengthened with their best batsman returning to the ranks. AB de Villiers is generally considered the best batsman in the limited overs format, though at the moment he occupies second place in the ICC ODI rankings behind the Indian captain Virat Kohli.

De Villiers has had plenty of success against India in the past; he averages close to 52 and has scored his runs at a strike-rate of 111.44. In fact, the 33-year old has scored 4 hundreds in his last 8 ODIs against India.

What makes de Villiers such a special batsman is his ability to score in all regions of the ground. Further, he is certain about his footwork and equally comfortable on the frontfoot and backfoot, can pack a punch in his strokes and is capable of clearing most grounds comfortably. De Villiers’ success against the Asian teams and in sub-continent conditions is also because of his ability to dominate the spinners, thereby putting them off their rhythm; he is not afraid to charge down the ground when faced against the spinners, is certain about which strokes to play and plays them wholeheartedly.

De Villiers is among few batsmen who can claim to have dominated Indian spinners; against the Indian spinners, he averages 61.60 per dismissal in ODIs and has scored against them at just over a run-a-ball.

How big a difference will de Villiers’ return make to South Africa? Will his presence in the XI help South Africa win in Johannesburg and stay alive in the series? Or will Virat Kohli’s team, who have been far superior to the hosts, be able to seal the series? You can follow live updates from the match in our live blog here; the match begins at 1630Hrs IST.

Trivia: The South African players will sport pink jerseys in the 4th ODI in support of the Breast Cancer awareness campaign; they are unbeaten in the six matches in which they’ve played sporting the pink jersey.

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