India suffered humiliating defeats in the first two ODIs to lose the series and will look to regain some confidence before the first Test.
Having conceded the ODI series with humiliating back-to-back defeats, India will aim to salvage some pride by winning the third one-dayer against South Africa on Wednesday and gain some confidence going into the two-Test series.
The dead rubber isn't quite dead, though, as South Africa now have the chance of inflicting a humiliating clean-sweep after what all the BCCI did that almost put the tour off, before a curtailed series was okayed. For the Indian players, it will be an opportunity to get back in-form and avoid a whitewash.
Team India's performances in last two ODIs at Johannesburg and Durban have been more than disappointing. It was disheartening for fans to see such lame displays by both the batsmen and the bowlers. After dominating Australia and West Indies on the home turf, South Africa have rocked them with a dominating display in every department.
With India's top three batsmen - Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli - consistently giving match-winning performance before landing in South Africa, there were high hopes from them but they have looked pretty ordinary against Dale Steyn & Co.
Rohit and Dhawan haven't been able to put first-wicket stands like their counterparts Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock. Kohli's inability to stay at the wicket for a longer duration has put pressure on the middle order. Suresh Raina got the start in the last innings but failed to make it count and it won't be wrong to say that he stays vulnerable against the short-pitch stuff.
Ajinkya Rahane replaced Yuvraj Singh in Durban but Dhoni might bring the southpaw back for the final one-dayer before he flies back home. MS Dhoni looks in fine form and Indian fans will be hoping that he promotes himself up the order so that he gets time at the wicket to make it a contest.
Talking of bowlers, if there has been one particular positive on this tour so far, it has been the learning curve of Mohammad Shami. Shami's pace allowed him to use the Wanderers pitch to good effect and he carried that form to Kingsmead, picking up six wickets in both the games against an in-form batting line-up. However, rest of the bowlers have been ordinary and have been underperforming consistently.
India need to keep a check on the runs scored by the opposition in death overs, and try to get early breakthroughs, which they haven't managed to do so far with Amla and De Kock stitching century stands in both the games. Umesh Yadav, who was expensive in the last game, may make way for Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the only expected bowling change.
On the other hand, South Africans have done a far superior job. Besides the good work done by their openers, the fast bowlers - led by Steyn - have not allowed the Indian batsmen to settle down, skittling them in 41 and 35.1 overs in the first two games.
South Africa have decided to rest Jacques Kallis to keep him fresh for the Tests, with talks of Steyn and Morkel also sitting out doing the rounds as well. That would allow the Indian batsmen to heave a sigh of relief as they won't be facing the Steyn-gun. It could also mean legspinner Imran Tahir getting a game to prepare himself for the Test series.
But before South Africa think of a whitewash, rain may have a major say - with the Centurion receiving continuous rainfall over the past week and the forecast suggesting some on Wednesday as well.
South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 AB de Villiers (capt), 4 JP Duminy, 5 David Miller, 6 Wayne Parnell, 7 Ryan McLaren/Dale Steyn, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Imran Tahir, 10 L Tsotsobe, 11 Morne Morkel
India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh/Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Umesh Yadav, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Mohammad Shami
(With agency inputs)