Preview: Hosts India looks strong against new-look South Africa
With the ICC World T20 all set to host its latest edition in 2020, most teams all around the world will be squaring off with each other in T20I matches in the next few months. South Africa’s tour to India in September commences with a 3-match T20I series. It will be an interesting contest between two contrasting sides and will be fascinating to see who emerges the winner.
The first match of the series will be played in the picturesque ground of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh on the 15th of September, 2018. In the last 5 T20I games between the two sides, India has won 2 and lost 2 while one match was abandoned. Looking at that one would think that things are evenly poised for the game.
However, India is a strong limited overs side at present and even more dangerous when playing at home. In captain Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, India have two of the best limited overs batsmen today. Then there is opener Shikhar Dhawan, stylish young batsman Shreyas Iyer and the aggressive wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant to further bolster the batting unit. The return of Hardik Panyda would make a huge difference to the lower middle-order. If captain Kohli chooses to go with Krunal Pandya as well it would add further variety to the team.
With Jasprit Bumrah having been rested for the series, India’s bowling will depend on the young pace bowling sensation Navdeep Saini, left-armer Khaleel Ahmed, and the impressive seamer Deepak Chahar along with the Pandya brothers. 20-year-old leg-spinner Rahul Chahar was good against the West Indies and might get a look in too.
South Africa, meanwhile, will be led by their wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock and have plenty of new and inexperienced faces in the lineup. A lot would depend on the likes of Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma apart from the captain himself to do the bulk of the scoring. The batsmen would have to be wary against the Indian spinners who are likely to create trouble for them.Embed from Getty Images
South Africa’s bowling looks healthier with the brilliant Kagiso Rabada leading the pack and ably supported by the likes of Andile Phehlukwayo, Junior Dala and Dwaine Pretorius. Leg-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi would have an important part to play too and would have to produce something special to outfox the Indian batsmen.
Match Prediction – India vs South Africa, 1st T20I:
The pitch at Dharamsala is expected to be bouncy but the ball should come on to the bat nicely. This is a good chasing surface and the highest total on the venue is 200-3 in 19.4 overs by South Africa while chasing India’s total of 199-5 in 2015.
The team batting first should get in excess of 175-180 to have a good chance in the game. This South African side lacks experience and fire. It would take a little time for this new bunch to adapt to the Indian conditions.
India have a solid all-round squad and playing at home they will be difficult to upstage by this South African side. India hence starts favorite for the first match of this T20I series. But T20 cricket allows a team to change a game in just a couple of overs. Once can thus expect a thrilling game of cricket in this interesting face-off.