After India staged a superb comeback in the 2nd ODI in Indore and drew level the series 1-1, the third ODI in Rajkot is going to be a close contest for both the teams. Whoever win the match, will have an upper-hand in the current series. It was indeed a much-needed victory for the Men-In-Blue as they lodged their first win after losing the T20 series and the first ODI. To make things even better, the Indian victory was spearheaded by none other than Captain Cool, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who not only contributed with his bat but also with his trademark captaincy skills which outwitted the visiting team. Defending a relatively small total, Dhoni's side showed great character strength and their combined team effort outsmarted the Proteas.
The South Africans on the other hand must be pretty depressed after losing the match which technically they should have been won. They put up a brilliant bowling effort early in the match, but could not breach Dhoni's defence which proved costly for them. And while batting, how did they lost the match despite being in a formidable position is a question that will haunt them surely.
Both the teams would like to win the third ODI and aim to keep the series in their favour and thereby the spectators surely can expect a cracking contest.
Let us take a look at the players from both the teams who have the ability to change the game:
1) Mahendra Singh Dhoni
He batted like a responsible skipper when his team was struggling, gave some much needed moral boosting pep talk to his boys, made some smart bowling and fielding changes and himself took four catches behind the stumps. In short, he was the main proprietor in carving India's stunning yet fabulous victory against South Africa and in the process, also put his critics into a silent mode. What more can be expected from him? Whether he continues his perfect run or his critics will have another go at him, will be evident from the third ODI itself.
2) Ajinkya Rahane
One of Dhoni's game-changing tactics was to bring Rahane back in the team even though Dhoni despised the latter previously. And the change paid off-well. Rahane has been consistent with the batting and provides solidarity to the number three position in the Indian batting line-up.
3) Akshar Patel
In Ashwin's absence, it is a golden chance for young Patel to become the lead spinner for India, especially after the superb bowling performance he put in the last match. India's decision to bring him in by replacing Amit Mishra was indeed a risky gamble but the youngster proved his mettle despite tough and challenging conditions.
1) AB De Villiers
De Villiers is undoubtedly one of the best and explosive batsmen in the world currently and he possesses the ability to change the fate of the game, anytime with his bat. There is no bowler and opposition captain who is not afraid of this South African when he comes to bat. As the Proteas skipper, he would definitely want to win the third ODI and go ahead of his peer.
2) JP Duminy
He has been a consistent run scorer in this tour and is extremely dependable and always at service for his team. Duminy provides enough support and firepower in the middle order of the Proteas batting line-up. With him at the crease, no total is too short or big for South Africa.
3) Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn produced some superb disciplined fast bowling on a flat track which aided the visiting team to restrict the hosts to a middling score. Steyn clinched three wickets and showed once again why he is one of the best pacers in the cricketing globe.