De Villiers returns for final three ODIs

AB de Villiers will return for the last three ODIs after being out with a finger injury. © Getty

AB de Villiers has returned to South Africa’s squad for the last three one-day internationals against India, but his availability for the fourth match at the Wanderers on Saturday (February 10) is yet to be determined.

De Villiers missed the first half of the six-match series due to a finger injury, and South Africa were soundly beaten in all three games during his absence. While his return to the squad was confirmed after the selectors met in Johannesburg on Thursday, a spokesperson said that the batsman will still need to be assessed when the squad gathers at the Wanderers on the eve of the Pink ODI.

South Africa squad for last three ODIs: Aiden Markram (c), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khayelihle Zondo, Farhaan Behardien.

Should de Villiers be passed fit, he would provide a much-needed confidence boost to a batting unit that has had no answer to the twin spin threat of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. The pair have taken 21 wickets in the series at a scarcely believable average of 9.05.

“Having AB back is going to be a massive boost,” JP Duminy said after South Africa lost the third ODI at Newlands by 124 runs. “He’s one of the world’s best players in one-day cricket. He will bring confidence to the team and his leadership within the group will add a lot of value as well.”

De Villiers’s addition was the only change to South Africa’s squad.

South Africa had set out to trial some new players in the series, and batsman Khaya Zondo, bowler Lungi Ngidi and wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen have all made their ODI debuts. While the selectors might have had designs on resting some of the Test players with a four-match series against Australia due to get underway on March 1, the lack of experience in the squad and the state of the series has not permitted such a luxury.

Instead senior players such as Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada will remain with the squad. Morkel was rested in Wednesday’s third match, and Rabada is likely to sit out at least one of the remaining matches. Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock remain sidelined by injuries.