India look to seal the series in fourth ODI

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L Nandan

Port Elizabeth, Jan 20 (PTI) Having gained a 2-1 leadafter registering back-to-back victories in the last two gamesagainst the Proteas, India go into the fourth cricketone-dayer here tomorrow seeking to clinch their first-ever ODIseries triumph on South African soil.

The Indians have never won a limited-overs series inSouth Africa and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his youngbravehearts will leave no stone unturned to achieve the featat the St George''s Park.

After not-so-impressive batting performances in the firsttwo matches, India, riding on Yusuf Pathan''s batting prowess,managed to get the better of the hosts by two wickets in thethird one-dayer in Cape Town.

In a close encounter, Pathan was the difference betweenthe two sides as he scored a superb 50-ball 59, includingthree big sixes in one over off Johan Botha to turn the tidein India''s favour. He also chipped in with a wicket and acatch to bag the man of the match award.

But barring Pathan''s knock in the previous game, aninjury-hit India''s batting line-up has not shown much teeth,with the form of the top order batsmen continuing to be acause of worry for the team.

The batting has come a cropper in all the three matchesso far and the visitors managed to pull off an incredibleone-run victory over South Africa in the second game mainlybecause of the efforts of the bowlers, especially pacer MunafPatel.

Going into the fourth one-dayer, India would not onlywant to win the series here but also be keen to see theirtalented batting line-up, which has been a disappointment sofar, show some character on the pacy wickets of South Africa.

With seniors like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag andGautam Gambhir missing from the ranks, the youngsters, whohave done well in the recent past, have not been able to copewith the conditions.

However, except in the first game, even South Africanshave not been too impressive with the bat. In the previousone-dayer, the hosts struggled to reach 220 all out withdebutant Du Plessis (60) and JP Duminy (52) sharing a crucial110-run stand for the fifth-wicket.

Replying to a modest total, Indians, too, struggled underlights, as at one stage they were reeling at 93 for fivebefore Pathan''s innings coupled with Harbhajan Singh''s useful23 bailed the visitors out.

India''s bowling attack, in contrast, has been impressivewith the pace duo of Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel creatingenough problems for the batsmen. Even the spin spearheadHarbhajan Singh has come out with flying colours with hisconsistent performance. More PTI LN CM MRM

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