South Africa vs India: First T20 squads, preview, and predictions
India won the ODI series 5-1 in an emphatic thrashing of the Proteas. Can they replicate the performance in the T20s, or will the home side take the lead?
India cliched the ODI series 5-1 thanks to some superb batting and spin bowling. They now prepare to face the South Africans in a 3 match T20I series as the last leg of their tour commences. The Proteas have revamped their squad for the T20s, including some specialists whereas India have decided to go with largely the same team.
South Africa being hammered at home is not a common sight. They still have 3 matches to salvage their pride and go one-up on India. Can they recover from the ODIs, or will India continue to dominate?
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur
Jean-Paul Duminy (c), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, AB de Villiers, Reeza Hendricks, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Chris Morris, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, JJ Smuts
Where the teams stand
With the inclusion of Suresh Raina, India’s batting lineup is even better than the one which featured in the ODIs. Sharma and Dhawan are bound to open as usual, with Kohli and Raina to follow. Karthik, Dhoni, and Pandya will form a powerful lower middle order, with the last two adept finishers. Their form is a cause for concern, but these players thrive in the shortest format. Raina will be making a return after a long stint out of the team, and this is his chance to cement a spot in the squad.
When it comes to the bowling, India face an unusual dilemma. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has not been in the best form recently and was replaced by Shardul Thakur for the last ODI. He was brilliant, taking three wickets in the only match he played. The question now is whether to keep Thakur, or drop him after a splendid performance in favor of Kumar. There is no good reason to do so besides experience, but recent form must count as the primary factor in selection here. Bumrah is almost certain to play, and the spin duo is definitely so. The slow bowlers will be a key component of the team, and a lot rests on their ability to carry over their ODI performances into the T20s. Kohli has been in superb form with the bat, scoring three centuries in six ODIs. This Indian team will be hard to stop after what the 5-1 victory they achieved.
The Proteas have retained the core members of their squad for the T20s. JP Duminy is captain, taking over from du Plessis in the ODIs. AB Devilliers, Miller, Behardien, and Klassen are all part of the squad as well. Klassen has been in great form for the South Africans along with Miller, while the rest have been disappointing so far. A lot of hopes were pinned on Devilliers when he returned midway the ODIs, but there is only so much one man can do. Behardien failed to make his chances count, whereas Duminy was ordinary as well. The Proteas’ two main run-scorers from the ODIs, Amla and Markram, are not a part of the T20s, and that might prove to be a major problem for them. Still, their batting lineup is formidable on paper, and this is without the bowling all-rounders being mentioned.
From the bowlers, Morris, Phehlukwayo, and Shamsi have made the cut from the ODIs. The former two are almost certainly going to be in the playing eleven whereas Shamsi’s place is debatable given the inclusion of Phangiso in the squad. Phangiso and Hendricks have been a constant feature of the Proteas’ T20 team, which means that Shamsi will have to wait a little longer to prove his worth on the international stage. Dane Paterson will likely be the fifth bowler of the attack unless Duminy decides to go with two spinners. The bowling lineup is an upgrade over the one the Proteas possessed for the ODIs, despite names like Morkel and Rabada being a part of it. Morris and Phehlukwayo will be important members of the batting as well, especially given the inefficiency of the pure batsmen. This team is much better suited for T20s and the previous one was for ODIs, and while that means South Africa have a better chance of winning than before, it still looks quite unlikely.
India win. The Chahal-Kuldeep spin duo is a trump card that South Africa just do not have an answer to. Add a batting lineup in phenomenal form, and the Proteas will have a tough time trying to beat the team.