South Africa, India eye winning start to curtailed series

Match details
PCA IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali
September 18, Wednesday; 19:00 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar

The main picture

India captain Virat Kohli’s tweet with a photo of him on his haunches was from the last Twenty20 International hosted by the PCA IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali. The 30-year-old was clearly overjoyed at his match-winning contribution with the bat, helping India beat Australia in a virtual quarter-final at the 2016 T20 World Cup.

Kohli’s tweet sparked a social media frenzy and it’s possible that a handful of players—Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, and a couple of other squad members—who played that World T20 match against Australia and are part of the current squad could feel just as nostalgic when they take the field at the stadium in Mohali for the second T20I against South Africa on Wednesday.

The washout in Dharamsala means India and South Africa get a match less in their preparation for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, not that either team will be complaining too much at this stage. India coach Ravi Shastri said during an interview with broadcaster Star Sports that India are looking to create a “pool of 18” players before the final fifteen is announced, and a washout particularly affects the fringe players from having an extra chance to stake their claim.

From India’s perspective, rustiness could be an issue for the players who played the Test series in the Caribbean. The likes of Rohit, Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja have had no cricket for a fortnight and India’s only scheduled practice session ahead of the first T20I was cancelled due to rain. It’s a slight advantage for South Africa, a number of whose players featured in the ODI series against India ‘A’ in Thiruvananthapuram and were prepping themselves for this series even before the Indian squad convened.

PCA IS Bindra Stadium Mohali pitch report and weather forecast

Only a 19 per cent chance of precipitation is forecast for Wednesday evening, while a high humidity is expected. It means dew is a possibility too.

The pitch at the PCA Stadium has become progressively slower over the years, with the bounce equally variable too. However, in an ODI between India and Australia in March this year, an aggregate of 717 runs were scored in 97.5 overs, providing a good indication that it remains a good surface to bat on. Bowling second in that match, the Indian bowlers were adversely affected by the dew and Australia, thanks to Ashton Turner’s pyrotechnics, successfully chased down 359. Dew is likely to play a role in tomorrow’s match too and the captain winning the toss will opt to bowl first precisely for that reason.

India vs South Africa 2nd T20 playing 11

Possible Indian playing XI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya/Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Khaleel Ahmed

Possible South Africa playing XI: 1 Quinton de Kock (c & wk), 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 David Miller, 5 Temba Bavuma/Jon-Jon Smuts, 6 Andile Phehlukwayo, 7 Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Tabraiz Shamsi, 10 Anrich Nortje/Bjorn Fortuin, 11 Beuran Hendricks

Match prediction

South Africa are the better-prepared team ahead of the second T20I and could also benefit from the dew, which could neutralise the Indian spinners, if they bat first. The distinct possibility of the dew makes the toss crucial!