In-Form India and Sturdy South Africa To Lock Horns in the Series Opener
The upcoming series holds great value as the T20 World Cup is less than 3 weeks away now. David Miller was recently leading the Proteas’ T20I side, and the team was doing well under his captaincy. However, their full-time white ball captain Temba Bavuma has returned from injury and will captain the side now.
South Africa is a strong T20 side and has got incredibly talented individuals in all the departments of the game. But, they are facing a selection dilemma before the T20 World Cup in Australia starts.
Dwaine Pretorius is almost certain to feature as an all-rounder in the SA team, and he will provide them with the 5th bowling option. Rabada, Nortje, and Shamsi are certain to be selected in the playing XI.
But who’s gonna be their 5th bowler? Maharaj or Ngidi? Although Maharaj has been bowling brilliantly in T20 cricket of late, conditions and quota requirements might make Ngidi feature in the first-choice XI.
In contrast, India has almost found a settled combination for the T20 World Cup. Their batters and spinners are in great touch, and all the berths in those two departments are occupied. Their fast bowling struggled in the recent T20I series against Australia, unlike batting and spin bowling.
Bhuveneshuwar’s death bowling concerns have persisted while Harshal is striving hard to get back in rhythm. Jasprit Bumrah made a fine return in the 2nd T20I but conceded 50 runs in the 3rd game.
So, their pacers have a great opportunity to regain their form here before the start of the mega event.
Weather and Conditions
A cloud cover is expected in Thiruvananthapuram during the match time. The conditions will be extremely humid, and some dew might come in the 2nd innings. So, batting second should be the preferred option here.
It’s just the 3rd T20I at this venue, and the last time India played here, they lost by 8 wickets while defending 170 against the West Indies. Hence, we should expect a high-scoring game yet again.
Players to Keep an Eye On
Jasprit Bumrah has just returned from injury and is trying to prove his fitness ahead of the World T20. Apart from fitness, he needs to get into a good rhythm as well. So, all eyes will be on him to assess his match fitness and form.
Temba Bavuma was not picked recently in the SA20 league. Not getting picked in his country’s domestic league is a huge setback for a guy leading their national team in white ball cricket.
So, in this series, he has a point to prove to shut down the critics and justify his position in the SA’s T20 team.
Key Match Ups
Anrich Nortje vs Rohit Sharma
Nortje is one of the quickest going around, and the Hitman loves pace on the ball. Nortje will try to dismiss the Indian skipper early, and Rohit will be eyeing to use his pace to good effect.
Yuzvendra Chahal vs Aiden Markram
Markram has shown substantial improvement in playing spin and has performed exceptionally well at #4 in T20Is. But, he still struggles to pick the wrist spin at times. Therefore, Chahal will try to grab this opportunity to get rid of the dangerous Markram.
Considering the spin-friendly Indian pitches, Keshav Maharaj is likely to be included in the playing XI.
Probable XI: Temba Bavuma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Rilee Rossouw, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Tristan Stubbs, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi
The Indian team was experimenting in the series against Australia, but now we can assume they will play their best XI.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, Bhuveneshuwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal
What They Said
“It’s always a good challenge when you play against India. They are just coming off after a series win against Australia, and we, too, had a good series when we were here last time. So, I think it’s gonna be a very good series; it will be utterly contested.”
Tabraiz Shamsi reckons the upcoming T20I series will be exciting for two strong teams.
“He (Harshal Patel) is an important player for us. Coming back after an injury is never easy, and he was sidelined for almost 2 months. We didn’t judge him on the basis of his performance in this series. We believe in his ability, and he has shown his quality in the past.”
Rohit Sharma has thrown his weight behind out-of-form Harshal Patel.