India sniff another limited-overs series win

Match details
SuperSport Park, Centurion
February 21, Wednesday; 18:00 local, 21:30 IST
Live on Sony Ten 1 HD, Ten 1 (English), Ten 3 HD, Ten 3 (Hindi)

The main picture

India’s turnaround on this tour of South Africa has been nothing short of remarkable. After being battered and bruised in the first two Tests, Virat Kohli and co. managed to put respectability to the Test series scoreline by winning the third Test, then raced into a 0-3 lead which paved the way for a dominant, maiden ODI series win on South African soil and, exactly a month after the Centurion Test loss, they can sense another limited-overs series victory. Fair to also say that their life has been made a lot easier, partly by the resources available to them and partly by the host’s injury crisis, as the tour has progressed.

The ongoing three-match T20I series is the first between these sides in South Africa and India can actually win this tour by winning the second T20 International on Wednesday, to earn themselves a 1-2 win. And given how they fared in the first Twenty20 and the prevailing gulf between the two sides, India are massive favourites.

The loss of AB de Villiers due to a knee injury makes South Africa half the side they are with this veteran in the team. They lack the firepower in the batting and bowling departments to unsettle India in the way their Test team were able to, and the Proteas are also not helping themselves by fielding poorly.

If South Africa are to turn around this series by winning the second T20I, they have to dismiss the Indian top-order cheaply. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan have tormented them right from the start of the one-day series and, in the shortest format of the sport, this Indian trio can do significant damage even if they occupy the crease for a four or five-over period. India’s current middle-order is considerably weaker and bowling teams can exert control if the top three have been dismissed fairly early.

Secondly, the Proteas need a blazing start when they bat to get ahead of India in the contest. With the rich bowling resources available to Virat Kohli, he doesn’t have to use Jasprit Bumrah, who is currently his go-to bowler, for more than one over in the first half of the innings. And as a batting side, if you don’t get off to a quick start, you are unlikely to hurt India in the backend of your innings while Bumrah or, for that matter, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is in operation.

The SuperSport Park in Centurion has hosted only half-a-dozen T20Is to date, with South Africa winning three; tomorrow’s will be India’s first Twenty20 match at this venue. A whopping 83.33 per cent (five) of the matches here has been won by the teams batting first. On this trip, the pitch for all three matches so far (one Test and two ODIs) has been dry and the fast bowlers have had little on offer for them. You can expect the nature of the pitch for this T20 to remain the same. The weather forecast is for shower or thunderstorm in the evening, while showers are predicted for the morning as well.

Recent form

SA: LWWLW (from left to right, last five completed T20Is)

India vs South Africa 2nd T20 playing XI

The size of South Africa’s T20 squad has been reduced to 13 after de Villiers was ruled out ahead of the start of this series, making selection easier for the captain and the team management. Christiaan Jonker and Aaron Phangiso might continue to be on the bench for the second T20.

Possible SA playing XI for second T20: 1 Jean-Paul Duminy (c), 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Jon-Jon Smuts, 4 Farhaan Behardien, 5 David Miller, 6 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 7 Dane Paterson, 8 Chris Morris, 9 Andile Phehlukwayo, 10 Tabraiz Shamsi, 11 Junior Dala

You can expect India to persist with the same eleven from the last match as well, following a near-perfect performance. Kohli went off the field due to stiffness in his glute muscle but if he is fit, India’s playing XI is likely to be unchanged. Kuldeep Yadav’s right thumb injury from the last ODI kept him out of the side for the first T20 International and, with every bowler picked to play at the Wanderers performing well, he might continue to remain on the sidelines.

Possible India playing 11 for the first T20: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jaydev Unadkat

Match prediction

India are firm favourites to win this Twenty20 International and with it the series. South Africa’s keys to success, as aforementioned, are dismissing the Indian top-order cheaply and getting off to a good start themselves when they bat.

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