Mithali Raj led Team India have already lost the five-match One Day International series 3-1 against South Africa with one game remaining. With the series already out of their grasp, they will try to finish it on a winning note when they will take on the Proteas one last time on Wednesday. While the visitors started with a convincing win, India bounced back in the second with a comfortable nine-wicket win. However, South Africa proved too strong as they clinched the series.

This is the first international series after more than a year for India as the global pandemic novel COVID-19 put the world at a standstill. On the other hand, South Africa came here after beating Pakistan 3-0 at home. While the batting unit has been doing fairly well, opener Jemimah Rodrigues’ form is a bit concern for the team who was eventually replaced by Priya Punia. 

Punia, although started well, failed to convert that start. Meanwhile, Punam Raut has been in a prolific form. She has so far scored 10, 62*, 77 and 104* in the four games while batting at No 3. The captain Mithali Raj, who became the first Indian cricketer and second internationally to score 10,000 international runs during the series, has so far scored 50, 36 and 45 in the three innings she has played. While she did not bat in the second match, she reached another milestone during the series – the first player to score 7000 ODI runs.

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On the other hand, Harmanpreet Kaur, who also did not bat in the second match, has been in a good form. She has scored 40, 36, 54 so far and it was her quickfire fifty that helped India put up 266 runs on board. However, Smriti Mandhana has been quite in the series so far, barring the second match where she smashed a match-winning 80*. While she is known for her quick scores since the beginning, she is yet to play another convincing knock in the series.

As far as bowling is concerned, senior pro Jhulan Goswami continued to be at her best as she topped the bowling charts with eight wickets from the three matches she has played. While she was injured in the fourth game, she failed to get much support from her teammates except for spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad.

Indian spinners, who are considered as the strength of India, have failed miserably. While Rajeshwari Gayakwad (5 wickets from 4 matches) tried her best, others failed to live up to the expectations on slow tracks. Meanwhile, India missed the experience of Shikha Pandey in the middle. And, they failed to restrict South Africa despite having 249 and 267 on board in the third and fourth matches as well.

Considered as the key player of India, veteran leg-spinner Poonam Yadav failed to get a single wicket in the four matches she has played so far. Her poor form remains a concern going to the final ODI on Wednesday.

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On the other hand, South Africa have excelled in almost every department. Apart from the second game, it was their constant teamwork that helped them. Openers Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt have been in a formidable form, especially the former. She is topping the batting chart with 288 runs, having scored 83*, 4, 132* and 69. Her swashbuckling century helped South Africa win the rain-hit third match comfortably. Meanwhile, Laura has scored 154 runs and Lara Goodall 124 as well.

As far as the bowling unit is concerned, pace spearhead Shabnim Ismail is the top wicket-taker for the visitors with seven scalps from four matches and second overall after Jhulan Goswami. Alongside her, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Tumi Sekhukhune are all in form and have been giving a tough fight to the host.

The final game will take place at the same venue in Lucknow from 9 am IST.

Squads:

India: Mithali Raj (Captain), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Priya Punia, Yastika Bhatia, Harmanpreet Kaur, D Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper), Swetha Verma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, C Prathyusha, Monica Patel

South Africa: Sune Luus (Captain), Ayabonga Khaka, Shabnim Ismail, Laura Wolvaardt, Trisha Chetty, Sinalo Jafta, Tasmin Britz, Marizanne Kapp, Nondumiso Shangase, Lizelle Lee, Anneke Bosch, Faye Tunnicliffe, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Mignon du Preez, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Tumi Sekhukhune

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