Most of the times when a visiting team enters the final bend of their long endless tour, they start counting days. But with Team India there was a surprise spring in the players’ steps on a Saturday morning and they were looking determined to continue their recent turnaround in on-field fortunes. The tourists could thus bounce back from a grueling Test series win to take the ODI leg by an emphatic 5-1 scoreline.
The three-match t20I series will begin at the Wanderers and go to Centurion again before concluding where it all started, in Cape Town. All in a period of six days. Yet this leg brings an obvious sense of relief. The hosts have Australia around the corner and have rightfully rested their big players while India has offered an entry to one of their old-timers to push for a comeback and that is none other than Suresh Raina.
Also read: India's predicted XI - SA vs Ind (1st T20I)
The limelight will surely be on Raina for a reason. After playing the perfect team-man to perfection for almost a decade, the Uttar Pradesh batsman faced a rapid slump in form and fitness post the home ODIs against South Africa in 2015. Not only does he add variety to a to the batting line-up which is dominated b the right-hand batsmen, but also he can bowl, field and ideally replace Kedar Jadhav’s No.5 slot in the ODIs as well.
Meanwhile, JP Duminy, a player with very similar attributes to Raina, faces an uncertain future himself in the ODI setup if South Africa continue to put their weight behind Aiden Markram when the others return. There’ll be more than just brownie points up for grabs if he can demonstrate strong leadership qualities in a youthful-looking South African squad.
Pitch and Weather conditions
After the pitching debacle during the Tests, the ODI game nearly washed out by the rain after a thunderstorm. There is a forecast for rain late on Sunday evening as well, but the game’s afternoon start will help avoid that threat. The pitch for the ODI had pace, bounce and assisted strokeplay, a characteristic it should retain for the T20 as well.
Also read: Stats preview - SA vs Ind (1st T20I)
Some Stats to look out for:
- The last four T20Is at the Wanderers have been won by the team batting second. Targets of 232, 205 and 172 have been chased down.
- Virat Kohli needs 44 runs to become the third player to score 2000 runs in T20Is after Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill.
- Suresh Raina scored 314 runs from nine innings at 39.25 and a strike rate of 146 with a century and two fifties in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
KL Rahul has once again included in the squad but any attempts towards batting redemption will have to come at the cost of a rest for one of Rohit or Dhawan at the top. The likes of Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik might get a chance to feature in the playing I but not at the cost of Raina. There is much speculation about MS Dhoni’s effectiveness in the shortest format and the team management will want to evaluate his future in this format more closely given they still have some time to build for the next World T20. Jaydev Unadkat, one of the stars of the most recent IPL and IPL auction, could offer rest to one of Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Jasprit Bumrah.
On the other hand, AB de Villiers had a quiet series after returning from a finger injury. A little more freedom could help him to break the shackles in this format. Then there’s Farhan Behardien, who many believed was unlucky to not get more than a solitary game in the ODIs, who will have a point to prove
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan/ KL Rahul, Virat Kohli(c), Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey/ Axar Patel, MS Dhoni(wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Jaydev Unadkat, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal.
South Africa: Reeza Hendricks, JJ Smuts, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy(c), David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen(wk), Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Aaron Phangiso, Tabraiz Shamsi.