SA-likely-XIIt’s been two-long months since the first match of South Africa’s tour of India 2015 got underway. A tour that started with lot of smiles for South Africa (they won the T20I series 2-0 and ODI series 3-2) has completely gone India’s way in the Test series. South Africa, the No.1 Test side, started the tour by winning the first T20I at Dharamsala and now will look to end it on a happy note by registering a win at Delhi. For sure, that’s going to be a daunting task. Having lost two Tests and an away series for the first time in nine years, the Proteas will look to salvage some pride in Delhi. The wickets at Mohali and Nagpur were spinner’s paradise, and while the discussions will centre around the pitch once again, Suvajit Mustafi looks at the possible South African XI.

Top-order: Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl are set to retain their spot. No doubt they have struggled but do South Africa have better options? Elgar is the second highest scorer for the side with 116 runs at 23.20, while van Zyl has scored 56 at 11.20. Elgar has tried to fight it out in the middle with little success but his slow left-arm orthodox has come of use. After investing enough faith in the duo, the team management will expect them to fire in the final game. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Feroz Shah Kotla

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir batted at No. 3 position in both innings of Nagpur Test but expect that to be a temporary one, unless South Africa find themselves in a night-watchman situation again. Faf du Plessis, their usual No. 3 scored 11 runs in his first four innings and got a 39 in the second innings at Nagpur batting lower in the order. That might prompt skipper Hashim Amla to promote himself at No. 3. Amla’s 39 was one of the highlights of Nagpur Test and he will draw some confidence from that. Read: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Delhi, Preview: Visitors look to salvage pride in Gandhi-Mandela Series 2015.

Middle-order: The side’s batting has revolved around AB de Villiers, who had an off game at Nagpur. With 173 runs at 34.60, he has been South Africa’s best batsman in this series. The side will hope for a special knock from him in the final Test just like he incredibly demolished the Indian bowling attack in the final ODI at Mumbai just over a month ago. Du Plessis is expected to bat at No. 5. The South African T20I skipper has been in a good form leading up to the Test series and despite his poor show at Mohali and Bangalore, he looked pretty solid in his 39 at Nagpur. Read: Indian batsmen need to step up against South Africa in 4th Test at Delhi.

JP Duminy, the side’s highest scorer in the first innings at Nagpur, will continue to bat at No. 6. If the Delhi track continues to offer support to spin bowling, Duminy’s off-spin will come handy. He knows Feroz Shah Kotla better than most of his peers as he leads the Delhi based Delhi Daredevils (DD) side in the IPL.

Wicketkeeper Dane Vilas has scored 36 runs at 7.2 and despite that he is expected to retain his position. The other possibility is de Villiers stepping into ‘keeper’s shoes and batsman Temba Bavuma getting a nod. However it’s unlikely to happen, as De Villiers is too important as a batsman for South Africa. Read: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test: Feroz Shah Kotla not likely to offer respite to spin-ravaged visitors

Spinners: Simon Harmer is expected to retain his place. He hasn’t really troubled the Indian batsmen but has been pretty disciplined. He picked 10 wickets at 25.40. The off-spinner Harmer will be partnered by leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who has claimed 12 wickets at 13.25. It was Tahir, who ran through the Indian line-up in the second innings at Nagpur. The duo will also receive help from Elgar and Duminy.

Seamers: Once again in absence of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel will lead the bowling attack. Steyn got it bang on when he said that he chose a wrong time to get injured. Why not? He is the No. 1 ranked bowler in Test cricket and averages only 21.38 in India. Earlier on Wednesday, Amla confirmed that Steyn isn’t fit and this will once again impact South Africa big time. The side was already dealing with Vernon Philander’s injury when they lost their premier bowler too. Read: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Delhi: Key battles in Gandhi-Mandela Series 2015 clash

Morkel has bowled very well in their absence and picked up 6 wickets at Nagpur. Marchant de Lange and Kyle Abbott were seen having extended sessions at nets, and with Kagiso Rabada not having replicated his ODI form in the Test series, in all possibility the more experienced Abbott will make it to the XI.

Summary: There’s a lot of pride at stake for Amla’s men, who are still the top ranked Test side in the world. South Africa will look to go ahead with a balanced 7-4 attack, knowing that Duminy and Elgar can roll their arms effectively. They will rely on the batting trio of de Villiers, du Plessis and Amla to put up a good score.

South Africa likely XI for 4th Test (in batting order): Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Hashim Amla (c), AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Dane Vilas (wk), Simon Harmer, Kyle Abbott, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)