India are in dire straits in the ongoing ODI series against South Africa, trailing 1-2 in the best-of-five series. On Thursday, they head into the fourth ODI in Chennai, a must-win game if they hope to level the series and fancy chances of clinching it.
To be fair, MS Dhoni and his men have not been bad in the series against South Africa, as all the matches have been fairly close. India could have won the first and third ODIs, but lost because that's what happens when you concede that little space to a team like South Africa, who can bounce back from difficult situations to win.
The fourth ODI represents a chance for the Indian players to gel as a unit and deliver, while South Africa players will be keen to win the series in Chennai itself, which makes the contest interesting.
Here is a look at players from India and South Africa, who can make a difference in the fourth ODI in Chennai.
Shikhar Dhawan â€“ The left-handed opening batsman has not been able to stamp his authority on the South African bowlers and Dhawan is well aware that it's time to score runs at the top of the order. With scores of 23, 23 and 13 in the series, Dhawan has got off to some sort of start, but has not been able to consolidate which is frustrating. India will hope Dhawan gets back to his scoring ways and provides a solid start alongside Rohit Sharma, who has been in prime form. If Dhawan gets going, it makes life a bit easier for the rest of the batsmen who follow.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar â€“ Pitches in India are not favourable to the seamers, so Bhuvi, who opens the bowling attack for India, needs to be spot on with his line and length against the strong South African top order. Bhuvi has taken just three wickets in the series, in the second ODI that India won. It reinforces the importance of seamers taking wickets. If Bhuvi takes wickets, spinners, who are always the key for India, will be relieved of pressure.
David Miller â€“ South Africa are desperate to see Miller score runs. After failing in the first 2 ODIs in the middle order, Miller was promoted up in the batting order to open the innings. The left-hander did justice, as he was involved in a 72-run partnership for the first wicket. So, Miller might open in Chennai as well and his team mates would ask him to stay at the batting crease longer; if he manages, he will surely score more runs given that he is a natural stroke-maker. India are also wary of the fact that Miller is due for a big score.
Kagiso Rabada â€“ The youngster from South Africa has been one of the outstanding performers for the visitors, though he has taken only three wickets in the series. His bowling during the death overs has been phenomenal as he has even made batsman such as Dhoni struggle for runs in the final overs, where the man from Jharkhand excels. Rabada is the unsung hero of South Africa with star bowlers such as Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel hogging the limelight.