Depleted India seek series sweep
The series and number No 2 ranking in their grasp, India aim for a rare clean sweep while South Africa have nothing but pride to play for in the third and final One-Day International in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
The home team will be without more than half a dozen key players in the dead rubber, some missing the action from the start of the series and others - including ace batsman Sachin Tendulkar being rested for the match.
Tendulkar's absence, Virender Sehwag's back problem and the wrist injury to Gautam Gambhir, have necessitated the inclusion of the uncapped Murali Vijay of Tamil Nadu to open the batting with his state-mate Dinesh Karthik.
Vijay, who has played four Tests in his fledgling career, thus gets a chance to show his worth in the 50-over format of the game by default, at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium in Motera.
Image: Murali Vijay and Ravindra Jadeja chat during practice on Friday
Indian middle order in youngsters' hands
The Indian middle order, in the absence of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, is full of vigour but vastly inexperienced compared to the regular one and the Proteas could not have got a better opportunity to scythe through it.
Youngsters Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, and Ravindra Jadeja have been entrusted the responsibility to shore up the middle with in-form skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan.
Image: Yusuf Pathan and Amit Mishra bowl in the nets
Chance for Tyagi, Mithun
The Indian bowling too is depleted in the absence of not only Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, but also Praveen Kumar, who is reportedly out because of a hamstring injury.
The team will also miss Sehwag as the extra slow bowling option to support Jadeja and Pathan, brightening the chances of either leg spinner Amit Mishra or uncapped off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin getting a look-in.
An enormous burden is on Ashish Nehra and the inconsistent S Sreesanth to deliver the goods in the early overs and at the death.
They are expected to have the backup of either Sudeep Tyagi, who has been traveling with the team without getting many chances to play, or Karnataka's young talent Abhimanyu Mithun.
Image: Abhimanyu Mithun
Solid innings needed from Gibbs
The Proteas batting hasn't fired in the two matches, with skipper Jacques Kallis at Jaipur and A B de Villiers in Gwalior being the top scorers without getting much support from the rest.
Much was expected from Herschelle Gibbs at the top because of his familiarity with Indian pitches and conditions but his bat failed to boom in the first two ties and the visitors will be looking forward to a solid innings from this veteran.
Image: Herschelle Gibbs
Another batting paradise at Motera
India have a mixed bag of results at Motera, having won five and lost six -- including the last three -- of their encounters.
The home team's last victory came more than seven years ago, in November 2002 against the West Indies.
Curator Dhiraj Parsana has predicted that the wicket would not be a batting paradise like the ones at Jaipur and Gwalior and a score of 260-plus would be a good one to defend.
He also stated that dew fall has been quite heavy which could affect the team bowling second, but added that measures like sprinkling of chemicals on the outfield and usage of ropes to take away the moisture would be tried to reduce the impact.
Image: South Africa's Langeveldt and Gibbs play footbal during training