BENGALURU: India and South Africa are set to lock horns in the five-match T20I series which is starting on June 9. The series is being organised keeping in mind the World T20 which will take place later this year in October-November. So, both the teams are looking at it to try different players, finetune their team combinations and gear up for the big tournament.
The recent Indian Premier League (IPL) threw up a raft of promising players who have the potential to come good at the international level. Their emergence has also widened India’s talent pool which is already brimming with a number of talented cricketers. Youngsters like Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh are drafted into the squad for the South Africa series because of their brilliant performance in the IPL.
Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav and Dinesh Karthik, who were out of favour, have also been rewarded for their scintillating show in the cash-rich tournament. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah have been rested to give a chance to youngsters. KL Rahul will be leading the side in the series in the absence of Rohit.
After their dismal show in last year’s World T20, India bounced back strongly in the T20 format and whitewashed both Sri Lanka and West Indies in the T20Is series this year. India have won all their six T20Is in 2022 and are looking for a spirited unit once again.
India have around 15 T20Is scheduled between June and the T20 World Cup and they are likely to try many players to find the best team combination for the premier tournament. If youngsters like Umran Malik, Arshdeep, Deepak Hooda and Venkatesh Iyer step up and turn in superlative performances, they might get selected for the World T20 squad. Umran, in particular, spell-bound everyone in the IPL by consistently bowling over 150 kph. He will be fast-tracked and rise rapidly if he grabs this opportunity and makes it count.
Hardik had ceded his place as an all-rounder to Venkatesh owing to the injury, but he pitched in a spectacular all-round performance in the IPL as he propelled Gujarat Titans to the championship win. There are now several contenders for a couple of slots of all-rounder.
Though South Africa could not qualify for the semi-final in last year’s T20 World Cup, they had acquitted themselves with distinction by winning four out of five league matches. In the end, they were knocked out because of nett run-rate (NRR).
The biggest strength of South Africa is their strong middle-order as the likes of Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen have been in terrific form. Markram used to open in the T20 format but in the last few matches, he has been batting at No.4 for South Africa. Quinton de Kock has the wherewithal to rip apart any attack in the world on his day. Captain Temba Bavuma lends solidity with his calm presence.
The sizzling form of David Miller in the IPL has made life easy for South Africa as they were struggling to find a flamboyant finisher who can score briskly at No.6.
Pacer Kagiso Rabada and the left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi are the two pivots of their bowling department. While Rabada is a world-class pacer, Shamsi’s rise as a T20 bowler has been astounding. He has a sharp Googly and a bagful of variations. Not only has he been containing runs but also taking heaps of wickets.
On form and overall team quality, India at present have an edge over the visitors but South Africa aren’t a pushover either. If both the teams perform to their potential, we will witness a pulsating series.
India: KL Rahul (C), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Y Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, R Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (C), Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Rassie van der Dussen, Marco Jansen