After a historic win in the ODI series, Kohli and his team are getting to take on South Africa in a 3 match T20 series starting with the first match on Sunday (18th February) in Johannesburg. South Africa will enter the series with the intent of revenge after being completely outplayed in the 50-over format. The hosts will be led by JP Duminy in the absence of Faf du Plessis, who is still recovering from his injury. On that note, let us look at the Predicted XI line-ups of both teams for the 1st T20 clash.
India have brought in a few T20 specialists into the squad for the 3 match series including veteran Suresh Raina, who is making his return to international cricket after a long time.
Here we look at the predicted XI that India could line-up with, at the 1st T20 in Johannesburg on 18th February.
It would be fair to say that Rohit Sharma hasn’t been at his prolific best on this tour, however, even at a time when he struggling, the Mumbai Indians captained smashed a brilliant ton in the 5th ODI to give India a winnable target and later received the man of the match for his efforts. Apart from being the only player in the world to score 3 double centuries in ODI cricket, the 30-year-old is also the only Indian player to score 2 hundreds in T20 Internationals.
Unlike Rohit, Dhawan has looked in his stride since the start of the limited over series, although he was dropped from the test team after a couple of disappointing performances at the start of the tour. With KL Rahul in the team, the pressure will be on these two openers to perform otherwise they could be shifted to the bench.
Why should Kohli player, well because he is the best batsman in the world currently. The Indian captain has been in terrific touch for the past 16 months. He ended the test series as the highest run-getter and lit up the ODI series with 2 hundreds and one fifty. He will be looking to lead India to another series win as they embark on a journey to become the best cricket playing nation in all three formats.
4th highest run-scorer for India in T20 internationals, Suresh Raina will be making his long-awaited return to the India team having played last for India in February 2017. The swashbuckling left-hander will be looking to utilise this chance in order to make a place for himself in India’s squad for next years World Cup.
Manish Pandey is one player who has failed to live up to the expectation that h has generated with the talent that he possesses. In 15 international T20’s Pandey has managed to score just 239 runs at an average of 27. He will be looking to put a good case forward for himself for future tours with a good showing in this series. If he does struggle India could go with Dinesh Karthik for the future matches.
It’s become clear over the past one year that Dhoni’s ball hitting abilities are on the vain but the 36-year-old is still a huge force to reckon with when it comes to limited over format. One feels that he might need to be promoted up the order if we have to see the best of him at this stage, especially the 1st T20, which is why Dhoni is early on in our list for the Predicted XI squads for both teams.
Ever since his innings of 93 in the 1st test on the South African tour, Hardik Pandya has struggled to find his feat. However, in the 5th ODI he suddenly came to light in the 2nd innings with a brilliant run-out, catch and 2 wickets including that of De Villiers for the 2nd consecutive time. If India is going to well in the 1st T20 format they will need to have a world-class all-rounder in the side and the door is right now open Pandya to make that spot his.
The main reason for India’s success in the ODI series was the performance of Yuzvendra Chahal and his spin partner Kuldeep Yadav. The 27-year-old was single-handedly responsible for destroying the South African batting line-up in a couple of matches. He has been brilliant for India in the T20 format with 26 wickets in 14 matches and is the country’s first choice spinner in ODI’s and T20’s, which is why he is in the predicted XI line-up for the 1st T20.
Just like Chahal, Kuldeep was a constant pain for the South African batsmen. His ability to mix things up and not be afraid to invite the batsman has earned a number of wickets over the last year. He will again be tasked with the responsibility of picking up wickets in the middle-overs. Axar Patel is another spinner in the squad, however, it is unlikely he will get chance over the duo of Chahal and Kuldeep, and so is out of the Predicted XI list for India’s 1st T20 against South Africa.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar wasn’t at his best during the ODI series but still is India’s prime bowler in the limited over format. His place will be under threat from Jaydev Unadkat who has arrived as a T20 specialist in South Africa. However, with this being the first match of series, the team management might like to stick to their best Predicted XI rather than an experiment.
If fit, Bumrah is probably the first name of the team sheet after the captain in the T20 format, not limited to a Predicted XI. He is regarded by many as the best death over bowler in the world and it will not be surprising to see him again troubling the South Africa batsmen just like he did in the ODI’s and test series. His 4 overs will be very crucial to India’s performance over the 3 matches.
South Africa Predicted XI for 1st T20 against India
Behardien, Reeza Hendricks, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Heinrich Klassen, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, JJ Smuts