New Delhi: Pink ball cricket may just be a new format in the gentleman’s game, but Pink ODI is something that has a much larger meaning. South Africa and India are all-set to lock horns against each other in the first Pink ODI of the year, at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Proteas will wear Pink in this match to show their support and create further awareness for Breast Cancer. According to a Cricket South Africa report, women in the country have a one in twenty-nine chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer - the most common disease amongst women.
Although the cause is much larger than the game itself, but once the first ball is bowled at the Wanderers, the focus will shift back to cricket as both teams have plenty to play for despite India taking a 3-0 lead in the series. The visitors are on the cusp of their first series win in South Africa, whereas the Proteas have never lost a Pink ODI and they would want that winning run to continue.
Since 2013, five Pink ODIs have been played and the Wanderers one will be the sixth. History suggests that the home side have been invincible whenever they have donned the Pink jersey and have beaten the likes of Pakistan (2013), India (2013), West Indies (2015), England (2017) and Sri Lanka (2017).
Moreover, the way South Africans have dismantled teams in these matches is something that must be noted. Although, the ‘Men in Blue’ have been in sensational form in the series, but they will be wary of Proteas’ Pink ODI record as it has been surreal.
In five matches, Proteas have crossed the 400-run mark once (batting first) and 300-run mark thrice (one time batting second), so run scoring hasn’t been a problem for the hosts. And one of the main protagonists has been AB De Villiers — who is making a comeback to the team after an injury lay-off, a period which saw the visitors run riot and win three games on the bounce.
The combo of ABD and Pink Days have worked wonders for South Africa in the past and they will be hoping for the same as they look to stop the India juggernaut. Team India got the first taste of Pink Day in 2013, when De Villiers slammed 77 off 47 balls as South Africa amassed 358/4 at the Wanderers, inflicting a heavy defeat on MS Dhoni’s troops.
Not just this, in the first Pink ODI, AB De Villiers slammed a majestic 128 to help South Africa beat Pakistan by 34 runs. However, ABD simply went berserk when they played against West Indies in 2015. ABD hit the fastest ODI ton in the history of the game as the Proteas posted 439/2 in 50 overs, winning the match comfortably by 148 runs. De Villiers couldn’t do much against England and Sri Lanka in the last two Pink ODIs but the hosts still managed to come out victorious to keep their record going.
The Pink ODI couldn’t have come at a better time for the injury-ravaged hosts as they look for some sort of inspiration to stop the high-flying Indians. The last time Pink Day, De Villiers and Wanderers combined, India were thrashed by 141 runs and the hosts will hope history that will repeat itself again to provide them with some respite.