Captain Rishabh Pant expects a better result from the Indian bowlers as he plots a comeback against a marauding South Africa on Sunday in the second T20 of the five-game series at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack. Pant, who first captained India, had to swallow a bitter pill when David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen shot down an imposing 212 with the utmost carelessness to lead 1-0 in the series. The southpaw also had a forgettable 2022 Indian Premier League where he failed to lead Delhi Capitals to the play-offs.
Seen as a future white-ball captain, Pant’s stakes suddenly dropped after IPL, coinciding with Hardik Pandya’s resurgence.
Returning to full fitness, the fast bowling all-rounder took the IPL by storm, not only with his form but also by staging a coup as he led Gujarat Titans to the title in their debut season.
Amid the growing chorus of “Hardik Pandya — India’s next captain,” Pant will be under scrutiny again if he plans a comeback.
It may still be early for Pant, the leader, but his body language never caught on and he seemed to be under pressure during his captaincy debut. He also made a questionable decision to underbow IPL Purple Cap winner Yuzvendra Chahal, fresh from claiming 27 wickets for runners-up Rajasthan Royals.
In Kotla, the leggie only bowled two full overs.
As for Hardik Pandya, fresh after his historic success with GT, he picked up where he left off in the IPL.
Pandya, who last played for India in the 2021 T20 World Cup last November, stunned the bat with a 31 out of 12 balls to prop the total over 200.
But he failed to impress with the bowl and leaked 18 runs into his only left. The big headache for Pant would be the bowling department where he would have to make a phone call between Arshdeep Singh and pace-gun Umran Malik.
While the batting looks in mint condition, the new tempo department looked flat in the series opener.
Senior-most Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn’t look the same, leaking runs in the death overs, while Harshal Patel was also taken to cleaners.
The younger Avesh Khan also failed to impress, although he was the most frugal of the trio.
With the duo of Arshdeep and Umran Malik going out of their way to impress the nets with their speed and accuracy, it’s likely that one of the duos is well set for a debut on Sunday.
It wouldn’t be an easy task as another mistake would mean the Pant-led side would have the difficult task of winning three in a row.
Fresh from the success of their individual players in the IPL, the Proteas feel ‘at home’.
In the shape of his life, Miller, who scored 481 runs to 68.71 in the IPL to play a key role in GT’s victory, has started off ominously and looked unstoppable both against spin and pace. in Kotla.
Quinton de Kock failed to convert his start, but the Lucknow Super Giants batter also scored a bag full of runs (508) in the IPL and he would try to make it count here.
With Van der Dussen also getting rich, the trio will form the clout, while Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje try to stop the Indians.
Plowing (of) india: Rishabh Pant (c & wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh, Khan Umran Malik.
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Rassie van der Dussen, Marco Jansen.
The match kicks off at 7pm IST.