When India take guard against South Africa at Cape Town for the third one-dayer in the ongoing 5-match series, the tourists will be in the curious position of being on the threshold of history once again. A win for India would mean that for the first time in an odi series in the Rainbow Nation, they would have gone one-up on the hosts. The Indians will certainly be keeping that objective in mind today, Jan 18.
India should also be looking to do a good chunk of homework before today's big game. The batsmen will need to psyche themselves up for a decent round of run-getting. Already the strategies of untimely aggression and extreme caution have flopped in the first two matches.
So now, India is better off mixing caution with aggression in a deft combination to take the fight to the seemingly invincible South African pace battery. Since it is evident that it hard to get the likes of Lonwabo Tsotsobe away for boundaries, the Indian batsmen will have to push more intently for singles and twos, which is a sure way of transfering the pressure onto the fielding side.
With not much experience to fall back on or the support of Sachin Tendulkar who's had to pull out of the series with a hamstring injury, openers Parthiv Patel and Murali Vijay will have to stay positive from the outset and grab every opportunity to dominate the bowlers. Batting powerplays will have to be taken very seriously and not squandered away with a succession of dot balls and worse still, wickets.
India will most certainly have to quell their nasty habit of letting wickets fall in a pile. New batsman will have to take the initiative to either launch a counter-offensive or fend off the pressure by keeping busy between the wickets.
There will also have to be meatier contributions from India's sometimes brittle middle-order. So far, only two India batsmen have been able to make scores of 50-plus, so there would certainly have to me more admissions into that club if India is to finally make a total over 200 and hopefully, past 250 as well.
Meanwhile, the Indian bowlers will have to try like heck to emulate their fine performance on Saturday. Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel will have to fire consistently on a tight line and vary their pace and length judiciously if they are to unsettle and fox the Proteas batsmen.
India is well equipped to surge ahead in this series. They have the prowess and determination. Not those qualities have just got to translate into a winning performance.