The series got off to a blockbuster start in Delhi, where India took their highest T20I score against South Africa, which completed their highest successful chase in response.
As India has even more players than they initially planned after KL Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav were both ruled out on the eve of the first match, the result may not hurt too much and there is more than enough time to make up for it . India couldn’t ask for more from their batters, but they may want to consider how best to use Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik in the middle order and when to unleash their IPL bowling finds on a South African lineup that is quietly habit of winning in difficult situations.
Dating back to last year’s T20 World Cup, South Africa has developed the talent to rely less on luck (or lack thereof) and rely on their prowess at death. Their skilled batters come into their own, but there are still questions about the composition of the team that they want to answer. Their all-round options on this tour are both seam bowlers, which leaves more room for specialized spinners. We can expect this combination to change as the series progresses, but perhaps not until the direction of the match is clear.
South Africa lead 1-0, but were pushed to their limits in the first game. How much further can they go? India will want to see.
(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
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While the Indian bowlers were shot in all parts of the Arun Jaitley stadium on Thursday night, it initially looked like Harshal Patel would regain control. He tossed pinch-hitter Dwaine Pretorius with a pin-point slower-ball yorker in a powerplay over that cost only one run, but was then only returned halfway through the stage. David Miller picked it up well and Rassie van der Dussen penalized his third over for 22 runs, but still praised Harshal’s slower ball, which he called “very hard” to hit. Even after Van der Dussen’s blitz, Harshal still managed to beat him with an offcutter ducking under the bat. Slowing down is arguably the best way to challenge a lineup that enjoys the ball hitting the bat and Harshal will play a big part as the series progresses.
It’s hard to be overly critical of South Africa’s percussion after the first match, but Temba Bavuma’s contributions could soon come under scrutiny, especially with so many top options on the squad. Bavuma has only played 22 T20Is, 14 of them as captain, and his strike rate is the number worth watching. In total it is 123.13, the third lowest for any South African with over 500 runs in the format
† Since the takeover of the lead, it has fallen to 114.91. Given that he usually has Quinton de Kock on the other side and can play a stabilizing role that might not be much of an issue, but if South Africa needs a more explosive start it could become more of a talking point.
We may have to wait a little longer to see Umran Malik or Arshdeep Singh with India likely going in with an unchanged XI.
india: (possibly) 1 Ishan Kishan, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt & wk), 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Yuzvendra chahal
Aiden Markram, who missed the first game after testing positive for Covid-19, has remained in Delhi and will be quarantined for seven days from June 8, barring him from at least the first three games. That didn’t do much for South Africa and after their success in the first match they may not want to tinker with their combination. If conditions are right for sailors, they may consider putting Keshav Maharaj on the bench for one of Lungi Ngidi or Marco Jansen.
South Africa: (possibly) 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma, 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 David Miller, 5 Tristan Stubbs, 6 Dwaine Pretorius, 7 Wayne Parnell, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Lungi Ngidi/Keshav Maharaj, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
The Barabati stadium has hosted just two T20Is before and in one of them, India was swept by South Africa for their fourth lowest T20I total – 92. In the other, Sri Lanka was sacked for their combined second lowest total of 87 While both attacks may be eyeing something similar with a significant sweep through the air available on the eve of the match, Wayne Parnell said he expects it to get quite tough for bowlers, despite the green-tinged surface. He also anticipates another “sweaty” encounter. Temperatures will be cooler than Delhi, with mercury reaching 37 degrees Celsius, but the humidity of 64% might not make it feel too different.
David Miller and Kagiso Rabada are the only two South African players of the XI to beat India by six wickets on this ground seven years ago. Axar Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are the two Indian players from that match.
Rabada is one wicket away from 50 T20I wickets. If he gets there in this series, he will be the second fastest South African to reach the milestone, after Imran Tahir, who reached it in 31 games
There are two things that India does very well, one is cricket and the other is hospitality. It was really great to be here.
Wayne Parnell enjoy his first time in Cuttack
“We discussed what went wrong after the game, but it was only the first game of the series. Everyone is from the IPL and almost everyone in the team had a good IPL. So everyone knows what needs to be done in the game of tomorrow and things we can improve so there was no big discussion because everyone can have an off day as a bowling unit we had an off day but it doesnt matter we just want to come back [stronger] in the next game.”
Bhuvneshwar Kumara thinks India need not worry despite losing first T20I