AB De Villiers South Africa Cheteshwar Pujara India
The pitch in Delhi should be a touch more to the liking of AB De Villiers and the rest of the South Africa batsmenReuters

Pitch, pitch, pitch has been the major talking point since the first ball was bowled in this Freedom Test Series between India and South Africa, with the discussion hitting stratospheric levels once the third match in Nagpur began last week.

While there is some merit to those criticising the nature of pitches that South Africa and India (don't forget, the Indian batsmen also have to play on the same wicket) have had to deal with, particularly the Nagpur one, it also has been blown out of proportion.

As much as a spin-friendly surface the one at the VCA Stadium might have been, it was not dangerous – no balls spit up from a good length to cause harm to the batsmen and neither did too many keep so low that the batsmen could do little. The surface was slow and gave batsmen enough time to find the right shot to the right ball, especially on Day 3, when Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis put on that big partnership.

While everyone from around the world have chimed in with their opinions, the team that have faced the brunt of it all – South Africa – have just got on with their business, insisting they need to play better, while refusing to use the conditions as an excuse for them being 2-0 down in the series.

"We are playing in India so we expect the pitches to turn," South Africa assistant coach Adrian Birrell said. "We are not complaining. We are playing in India and we are playing in India's conditions."

However, after the match referee Jeff Crowe deemed the pitch in Nagpur to be "poor", there could be consequences, even if those consequences are most likely to be felt in the longer-term.

For the here and now, though, all the focus is on the pitch for the fourth Test match between India and South Africa in Delhi, and early signs suggest this one will be more of a pitch that batsmen will be able to score runs on, with the action likely to last longer than the three days.

The highest score in the third Test was 40, but the wicket at the Feroz Shah Kotla is a lot firmer than the one in Nagpur, even if a lot can change over the next few hours.

"This one looks like it will go more than three days," Birrell added. "We are happy with what we see."

South Africa are likely to make a few changes to their team as well, while they are still hopeful Dale Steyn will return for this final Test match. Steyn hasn't bowled since the first innings of the first Test in Mohali owing to a groin strain, with the fast bowler set to undergo a fitness test today.

The visitors, though, will also be mindful of taking a risk on Steyn, particularly with this Freedom Series already done and dusted and a big series against England back home coming up. If Steyn doesn't make it in time, the bowling lineup is likely to remain the same, although the same cannot be said of the batsmen.

Stiaan Van Zyl's place is particularly under threat after falling under R Ashwin's spell, while Dane Vilas, the wicketkeeper also has struggled. South Africa, though, don't really have readymade replacement for either, with AB De Villiers unlikely to keep wickets.

India have no worries going into the final Test, even if some of the batsmen continue to flatter to deceive.

The four-bowler theory seemed to work just fine in the Nagpur match, but if the pitch looks like it might offer a touch more to the fast bowlers, Virat Kohli might think about bringing in Varun Aaron, be that at the expense of the extra batsman in Rohit Sharma or leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who was quite good in the second innings of the Nagpur Test. It is unlikely, though, and the playing XI will most likely be unchanged.

Expected lineups: India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma.

South Africa: Stiaan Van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla (C), AB De Villiers, Faf Du Plessis, JP Duminy, Dane Vilas, Simon Harmer, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

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