Putting behind an unsuccessful World Cup campaign is never easy, and with a new-look side, South Africa will be looking to do just that.
Keeping the 2020 T20 World Cup in mind, the Proteas are set to try a new set of players, most of them handpicked from the domestic T20 competition, under a new leader – Quinton de Kock.
Their next assignment is up against India, who have been in terrific form right from the beginning of this summer. It is set to be a long tour which is beginning with the three-match T20I series.
With the first match in Dharamsala being abandoned without a ball being bowled, we can expect a cracker of a contest at Mohali.
India haven’t been as good a side in T20s as they’ve been in other formats of the game and as per the words of Ravi Shastri, the Men in Blue are going to revamp their playing style in the shortest version of the game.
The new approach was already visible in their recent 3-0 win over West Indies. The inclusion of players who like to go bang-bang from the word go was just an example of their vision for the World T20 in 2020.
With the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan available at the top of the order, their top order looks as reliable as any in the world.
If Rohit Sharma starts firing from all cylinders from the word go, things could turn out exactly the way the think-tank wants.
But he will have to contend with Kagiso Rabada’s mean spells initially.
However, it is the middle order which has been the area of concern for the management for a long time.
The likes of Manish Pandey and Rishabh Pant have shown glimpses of brilliance, but performing consistently has been a big issue for them.
Shreyas Iyer did exceedingly well in the last series, and the fans will be hoping for another string of good performances from him.
With KL Rahul doing well in the limited-overs leg of the game, we might as well see him coming in at number four. However, thanks to four poor outings in the test series, the odds are stacked heavily against him.
Rishabh Pant has shown the same hitting ability as Dhoni did in his prime days, but the consistency, shot selection, and ability to handle the pressure hasn’t really been there.
India’s bowling lineup, which looks terrific on-paper with the likes of Bumrah, Kuldeep, and Chahal won’t be the same in this series.
The selectors have decided to take some pressure off the trio in this T20I series, and the onus will be on the likes of Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, and Khaleel Ahmed, who all did reasonably well in the series against West Indies.
Playing spin has always been an Achilles heel for the Proteas. To rectify this problem and to get acquainted to the Indian conditions, a few of the South African players took part in a spin camp at Bangalore just a month ago.
Even though a few players have good experience of playing different T20 leagues across the globe, the Proteas are undoubtedly short on international experience.
Following the retirement of Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, and Imran Tahir, the Proteas have big boots to fill. The absence of Faf du Plessis, who has opted out of this series to prepare for the longest version of the game is likely to be felt as well.
The pressure will be on the likes of Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, and Rassie van der Dussen, who are coming off reasonably good performances in T20 Cricket.
De Kock will have to assume a lot of responsibility if the South Africans are to do well. But it, most certainly, would not be easy going first up, especially with India’s wicket-taking options like Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar.
Their bowling, however, seems pretty good with the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje being available again. The duo will be looking to make a mark in this T20I series.
Before the T20 World Cup, South Africa do not have much time to get their combination right and each of the nine matches they have until then is of massive importance.
On paper, they have a squad that is rich in T20 expertise with the likes of David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, and Quinton de Kock available at their disposal. Having said that, their form is a bit of concern.
INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini.
SOUTH AFRICA: Reeza Hendricks, Quinton de Kock (C) (WK), Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Anrich Nortje.
With a few important players absent for both the sides, they both will be looking to get most out of their young batch of players.
South Africa have their bases covered, but the inexperience of playing against spinners in India could be a massive factor.
India, on the other hand, are likely to miss the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
South Africa have not really done particularly well in the limited-overs format of late and will be looking to get back to the winning ways.
They are playing in relatively alien conditions and considering that and the form of the home team makes India as firm favourites to emerge on top in the second T20I at Mohali.