No matter how much AB De Villiers talk about the necessity of going into major tournaments with a winning streak, he must be happy from the inside because of his side’s back-to-back wins after they surrendered the Twenty20 International series 1-2.
It was the very same Wanderers in Johannesburg, venue for the third ODI, which gave the Lankans their first victory on the tour last week and eventually gave them the momentum to bag the shortest-format series.
The dry and spin-conducive wicket made Farhaan Behardien draw parallels between the Colombo and Wanderer wickets. But come the Pink ODI — an initiative to raise breast cancer awareness — AB-led South Africa will look at their skipper to unleash himself onto the touring bowlers. De Villiers has scored two centuries — including the fastest in ODI cricket — in four pink ODIs.
His return to the international cricket has been a steady one, scoring 30 not out and 3, but it is a score in triple digits that will actually announce his return, considering the batsman’s class.***
South Africa are yet to lose a game when they've played in pink. Since the Pink ODI concept was born in 2013, the Proteas have beaten Pakistan (34 runs), India (141 runs), West Indies (148 runs) and England (1 wicket).
Sri Lanka were the last team to beat South Africa at the Wanderers in 2012, when they chased down a target of 313 to win by two wickets. Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal and Nuwan Kulasekara were all in the Sri Lankan team that day.
AB de Villiers' record in pink games is, frankly, scary. In the four ODIs to date he has struck 390 runs at an average of 97.50. The highlight was his record-shattering 149 off 44 balls against West Indies two years ago.
Faf du Plessis will make his 100th ODI appearance, six years after he made his debut against India at Newlands in the lead-up to the 2011 World Cup
Statistics by Rakesh Yousaf.***
Like a wine, Imran Tahir continues to better. He has not been wayward off-late and has bowled at an immaculate line in the two ODIs, bagging five wickets. In the second ODI, Tahir did not concede a single boundary in his 10 overs. The leg-spinner’s fielding, which has remained under scrutiny over the years, has seen a drastic improvement. Such are the improvements which South Africa would be happy with going into the ICC Champions Trophy.
The Proteas will be without the services of the explosive batsman David Miller, who injured his hand during the second ODI. He hit two centuries in three matches to give his side victories over Australia and Sri Lanka. Behardien, padded with the presence of Faf du Plessis, AB, and JP Duminy, will come in for Miller.
For the tourists, they will hope for a Colombo-esque wicket to keep the series alive.