Kolkata, Oct 7: It may be a dead rubber, but for India it would be an opportunity to salvage lost pride as they take on South Africa in the third and final Twenty20 International at the iconic Eden Gardens here on Thursday (October 8).
The visitors have gulped back to back matches and taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. In both games, the Indians have lacked the will to win.
In the first contest at Dharamsala, the hosts were able to pile up a massive 199 on the board, but the somewhat inexperienced bowling line-up failed to keep the Proteas in check and JP Duminy -playing a valiant knock of 68 runs - took his side home with seven wickets in hand.
The second game at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack saw the Indian batting crumble like cookies for a mere 92. South Africa chased the total down quite easily, losing only four wickets.
What contributed to the Indian batting fiasco were poor running between the wickets. Virat Kohli and opener Rohit Sharma were the victims of indecisive calling.
But as they approach the last contest of the T20 series, the Indians would want to forget the Barabati debacle and focus on what is in store at Eden.
According to pitch curator Prabir Mukherjee and former India captain Sourav Ganguly, the Eden strip would be batting friendly. If the Indian batting clicks, one can expect a run deluge here from the likes of Rohit, Kohli and skipper MS Dhoni.
It will be the same for the tourists who have got the likes of AB de Villiers and Duminy in their ranks. If the pitch indeed favours the batsmen, it will turn into a 'You miss, I hit' contest.
But one has to keep in mind that Eden Gardens is no Dharamsala where the air is thin and the ball flies off the willow. Therefore, spinners might play a pivotal role.
For India, the only bright speck in the bowling department has been off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who has grabbed four wickets from the two outings. If the Indians are to pull this one off, the others need to chip in as well.
The Indians might also take confidence from the fact that they have won six out of the 10 T20 Internationals against South Africa, but then again the momentum is with the visitors.
As it is an insignificant tie for the Proteas, a few players yet to play a part in this series might get a look in. The same cannot be said for India who would be desperate for a win so as to boost the side's confidence ahead of the five-game ODIs and four Test matches against the same opponents.
India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Akshar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ambati Rayudu, Mohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Sreenath Aravind.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Marchant de Lange, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Eddie Leie, David Miller, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Albie Morkel and Khaya Zondo.
Match starts at 7 PM IST