BENGALURU: India and South Africa are set to cross swords in the five-match T20I series which is starting on June 9. With World T20 slated to take place later this year, both the teams are aiming to firm up their team combinations. Let’s look at five players to look out for in the series:
1) Hardik Pandya: The Gujarat Titans captain was arguably the most impactful player of the Indian Premier League 2022 as he not only led his team to the championship win but also stepped up and performed brilliantly as an all-rounder. Hardik made vital contributions throughout the tournament at important junctures and ended up as the highest run-getter (487 runs) for his team.
Before the tournament, he was licking his wounds in the wilderness but after his smashing show, he’s back in the Indian squad. Hardik is perhaps in the best form of his life and would like to stamp his authority to once again become India’s first-choice all-rounder.
2) Umran Malik: The 22-year-old pacer hit the IPL 2022 like a meteor and completely mesmerised everyone by his explosive pace. Malik consistently bowled at over 150 kph and also evinced the knack of whipping out searing yorkers. He was the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the tournament and snapped up 22 scalps.
His tremendous performance compelled the Indian selectors to fast track him and he was chosen in the Indian squad for South Africa. Everyone is waiting with great anticipation to see whether Malik carries his pace and form in the international circuit as well and creates ripples. His success will give a huge boost to India’s fast bowling reservoir and he might seal a place for himself for the World T20 which is scheduled to take place later this year.
3) KL Rahul: Though KL Rahul scored heaps of runs in the IPL (616), he came in for criticism for his subpar strike-rate. Rahul opens the innings and tries to play the role of the sheet anchor but in the process, the momentum of his innings suffers. Even in the IPL, he failed to finish matches for his team on a few occasions after batting for more than 15 overs.
Also, in the last World T20, he failed to come in crucial matches against Pakistan and New Zealand. There is not even a shadow of a doubt about his prodigious talent, but Rahul has to break the shackles and hit his strides in this series to reinforce his place as an opener in this format.
4) Tabraiz Shamsi: The left-arm wrist-spinner has been an absolute revelation in the last couple of years, especially in the T20 format. In 2021, he was ranked the no.1 T20I spinner in the world and since the start of 2021, he has captured 36 wickets in just 22 matches. Among the top cricket playing nations, only Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga has grabbed more wickets than him in this phase.
Shamsi has developed a few fine variations, which are in tune with the format, and he also gets the ball to twirl. Not only has he become South Africa’s premier wicket-taker in this format but also his economy-rate has been astonishingly low at 5.72. Shamsi’s performances are directly proportional to South Africa’s fortunes in this format.
5) David Miller: South Africa has a potent middle-order as the likes of Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen have been in excellent form but they badly needed a reliable finisher. Miller regained his mojo in the IPL 2022 and fired on all cylinders for Gujarat as he finished a number of matches for his team.
Miller’s arresting form is great news for South Africa and they will be hoping that the dashing left-hander carries his form in the international arena as well.