The first T20I in Dharamsala got rained out without a ball being bowled and with the series at stake, both teams would look to land the first blow in Mohali. The wicket at Mohali is normally a good one to bat on but again the bowlers will enjoy good bounce as well. India hasn’t picked both Kuldeep Yadav Yuzvendra Chahal for this series, which means Rahul Chahar will be the lone wrist-spinner in the XI. It will also be interesting as to whom they will pick between the three spin bowling all-rounders in the middle order.
Krunal Pandya has done exceedingly well in the chances he has gotten so far and Washington Sundar has given Virat Kohli good control with the new ball. Ravindra Jadeja is the fourth spinner in the squad and he probably will make their XI as the main spin all-rounder. Navdeep Saini will lead the pace attack and the second seamer will be between Deepak Chahar and Khaleel Ahmed. Indian batting two will make an interesting selection. Shreyas Iyer who had a good series in West Indies is likely to make the XI at number four. Manish Pandey who is in the squad as well might find it difficult to make the middle order as Virat Kohli in his press conference looked keen to have more allrounders in the playing XI.
For South Africa though onus in on their captain, Quinton de Kock and the experienced David Miller. The rest of the batting is inexperienced, especially in the subcontinent. The bowling attack will depend on Kagiso Rabada and Tabraiz Shamsi in the absence of Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir. Both the teams are using this series to test their bench strength but again the retirements and injuries haven’t made it easy for the visitors.
South Africa does have some exciting young talent in their squad and they would be hoping that they come good in this tough assignment against a strong Indian side.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Chahar/Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini
South Africa XI:
Quinton de Kock (C & wk), Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Temba Bavuma, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorious, Bjorn Fortuin, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Anrich Nortje
Rohit Sharma (India): Rohit Sharma’s T20 record is impressive. He averages a shade under 33 with an impressive strike rate of 136. South Africa’s strength this series is their new-ball attack and Rohit’s batting at the start will be crucial for India. He had a quiet series against West Indies and would like to make amends for that against South Africa.
Navdeep Saini (India): Saini made an impressive debut against West Indies and this will be a different kind of test for him at home against South Africa. He has the talent and pace and with South African batting lacking experience, his bowling to Quinton de Kock with the new ball will be crucial.
Quinton De Kock (South Africa): de Kock is South Africa’s captain for this series and also their best limited-overs bat. He averages 27 with the bat in this format but again he will be crucial at the start in this inexperienced batting line up. He will rely on himself and David Miller to provide guidance to the young batting side.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa): For all the success Rabada has had in the Test format, his limited-overs performances haven’t scaled the same heights. In this team of young bowlers, he will important to guide the bowling attack against the might of Indian batting.
What did they say?
“As far as roadmap is concerned, whenever there is a world tournament coming up, it is a like a milestone and you start preparing from backward (back-calculate matches). I think every team will go through the same process before a T20 WC. These are opportunities where we can try the various combination with new people around – check their ability, character, composure to perform at the international level. From that point of view, (it’s) exciting for a captain to try different players and check out combinations. We have all come through that process and I feel happy when I see these new faces emerging and express themselves,” Said Virat Kohli regarding the preparation for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year
“The focus, for now, is this coming series against India. We’re looking to invest in a good foundation going into the T20 WC next year in Australia. But we still have a lot of games. We have about 20 games. So we’ll reassess the situation after these three games against India and see where we’re at, and how we build into the England series and so on. But for now, the focus is the Indian series.” Said South Africa’s team director Enoch Nkwe regarding the squad and plans for the future
The series has gotten off to a wet start but the weather in Mohali looks good for the second game. Both the team will be hoping for a good start to the series and the team winning cannot lose the series. Even though it will be a close one India will start as the favorites when the teams take the field in Mohali.