After winning the ODI series 5-1, India won the first of three T20Is by 28 runs after Bhuvneshwar Kumar took a five-wicket haul to wrap up the Proteas for well below their target. Dhawan scored 72 from 39 balls to be the other stand-out performer of the match.
The second T20 is a must-win game for the Proteas if they still want to stay in the series. Can they level the series to set up the decider, or will India clinch the series 2-0?
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, Reeza Hendricks, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Chris Morris, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, JJ Smuts
Where the teams stand
India’s batsmen put up a collective batting effort for the previous match. The ODIs saw mainly Dhawan and Kohli giving India the crucial runs for the team, but this time several batsmen in the lineup contributed with breezy 20s. Kohli and Dhawan still scored half the team score, but players like Pandey and Sharma made their contributions as well. Raina was disappointing on return(15 from 7), but he has shown what he can do with Chennai Super Kings. India have been very efficient at setting high targets and bowling the opposition out all tour, and it remains a winning strategy for them due to their surprisingly consistent batting which has provided them with big totals in almost all limited overs matches.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar finally found his groove, taking five wickets for 24 runs to ensure that India won the game comprehensively. Unadkat was disappointing, ending with figures of 4-0-33-1. Pandya was even more expensive, conceding 45 runs in his 4 overs. However, he has improved as a bowler, attacking the batsmen and bowling much fuller than usual with the odd bouncer to ruffle the opposition. Unadkat will likely lose his place to Kuldeep if the latter is fit for the second match, which will only strengthen this bowling attack. India need to tame their overall economy, but their batsmen have been giving the bowlers enough runs to play with consistently, handing them a huge advantage over the Proteas.
South Africa put up a much better batting performance in the first T20 as compared to the ODIs. Hendricks was brilliant at the top, scoring 70 from 50 balls. If Behardien and him had built a longer partnership, they would have had a good chance of winning the match. The exclusion of AB Devilliers due to injury is a worrying concern for them. He has been ruled out of the series, leaving a huge hole in the middle order with no reliable batsman now occupying a spot in those slots. They were one good partnership away from victory, but it failed to materialize. They have a team full of big-hitters, much like Australia, which can chase any target, but struggles for consistency.
The Proteas bowling attack has so far been consistently unable to stop the Indian batting lineup from plundering them for runs. This is the reason they have struggled to win matches in the ODI series along with the T20. The only way the Proteas have a fighting chance of winning is to let the Indians bat first and restrict them to a low target which they can chase down. They had the bowlers to do it in the ODIs, but their attack is much weaker in the T20s. It will be a tough job, but it is their best chance to win.
India win. If they continue to bat this way, South Africa just do not have the bowling to stop them or the batting to chase down a high score with India’s bowling.