South Africa could finish in less than a week what they had traveled to India – to win the five-T20I series – in less than a week if they win the third game on Tuesday, with two games left to play. Conversely, it has put India in a situation where every match is a must-win. That’s what makes the Visakhapatnam game the most interesting so far, as this is where the series could revolve.
To start towards India, they will have to find a way to be more menacing, especially with the ball. Apart from an exceptional performance, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 4 for 13 in the second T20I, every bowler in India’s attack has been inconsistent in the stages with South Africa appearing to have found a way to score them all. And they seem to have figured out how to do it under pressure.
South Africa was traditionally known for having a middle order that crumbled when the heat was high, but South Africa has found ways to win matches even when it looked like they were stuck. They’ve had 13 wins in their last 14 T20Is, including all seven they’ve chased.
Importantly, they found runs from a variety of players and didn’t have to rely solely on the biggest name, Quinton de Kock, to book big scores. de Kock is in the roster but suffered what captain Temba Bavuma described as an “extraordinary” hand injury two days before the second game and his availability for the rest of the series is unknown. That might make India one less thing to worry about, but they’ll know they can’t take the South African side — superstars or not — lightly.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa WWWWW
Rishabh Pant’s first foray into the international captaincy raises some interesting questions after a tough IPL. He has not scored a cue for half a century since India’s series against the West Indies in February and also faces the additional challenges of managing the team’s strategy on the pitch. Depending on how he handles the rest of the series, with India for three crucial matches, Pant could settle in third in the leadership ranking, behind Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, or a case could be made for Hardik Pandya – who Gujarat led Titans to victory in the IPL – to step into the role.
It was Rassie van der Dussen in the first game and Heinrich Klaasen in the second, so it’s only natural to wonder who will be South Africa’s battle hero in the third. Reeza Hendricks has reason to impress: he has fallen behind in the pecking order and will likely give way once De Kock returns. Temba Bavuma played a good anchoring role in Cuttack, but his success rate remains just above 120. Dwaine Pretorius could get another chance to show what he can do in a pinching No. 3 role and David Miller, who has been a strong supporting actor to date and in the shape of his career could make more headlines.
Deepak Hooda could oust Shreyas Iyer to bolster the clout and give India an offspin option, which could come in handy against the South African lefties (read: David Miller). Whatever they do, India must find a way to keep South Africa’s middle class quiet which may force their hand to play either of Umran Malik or Arshdeep Singh in this crucial match. Avesh Khan could be sidelined if that happens.
india: (possibly) 1 Ishan Kishan, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Deepak Hooda/Shreyas Iyer, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt, week), 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar , 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Aiden Markram will remain unavailable as he completes his quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 on 9 June and if De Kock needs more time to recover from his wrist problem, South Africa could enter with an unchanged batting setup. de Kock underwent a scan on Monday, the results are expected on match day when a decision about his admission is made. The spinners have been underused so far and one of them can be banked in favor of an extra fast one.
South Africa: (possibly) 1 Reeza Hendricks, 2 Temba Bavuma (capt), 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 David Miller, 5 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 6 Dwaine Pretorius, 7 Wayne Parnell, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Lungi Ngidi/Keshav Maharaj, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Tabraiz Shamsic
There is a small sample size of just two T20Is at this location to tell us what to expect from the surface. Both were low scoring encounters, won by the chasing team. In 2016, India knocked out Sri Lanka for 82 and knocked it out within 14 overs, and in 2019 India was limited to 126 for 7 by Australia, who won by three wickets. Spinners and sailors alike were successful here, suggesting another tricky battle track. There is rain on the eve of the race, but only a 20% chance on race day, with temperatures in the 30s and high humidity expected.
If South Africa wins the third game, and thus the series, it will extend their unbeaten run in India’s whiteball series to 12 years. They have not lost a rubber since the ODIs in India in 2010, and have since won one ODI and one T20I series while drawing another T20I series.
Shreyas Iyer took on the South African spinners against whom he has a strike rate of 220, but he struggled with the pace in this series, against whom his strike rate drops to 76.19.
Heinrich Klaasen faced Yuzvendra Chahal in two T20Is. In 2018, he scored 41 from 12 deliveries and added 30 from 13 balls on Sunday.
“We always try to build that depth. A bizarre injury with Quinny (de Kock) and his hand, and Klaasen grabbed that opportunity with both hands. He is a great player for us in the middle of the innings. We know what he is doing.” We support him 100%. We have a lot of confidence in him and he showed again why he is part of this team.”
Although Heinrich Klaasen was dropped from the ODIs and lost his national contract, Temba Bavuma supports him to do great things for South Africa