India will try to test new and old players in the five-match T20I series against a strong South African team starting on Thursday to prepare their squad for the T20 World Cup to be held in Australia later this year. The first match between the two teams (India vs South Africa) will be played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi. India has now won 12 T20 Internationals in a row and will also try to create a new record by winning the 13th T20 in a row. Head coach Rahul Dravid’s main objective, however, will be to prepare the team for the T20 World Cup to be held in October. There cannot be a better opponent for this than South Africa which have done well in the recent past.
Captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been rested but standing captain KL Rahul is in excellent form. However, it will not be easy for them to choose between Rituraj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan as their opening partner. Both of them were not able to perform as expected in IPL 2022 but it is necessary to give them a chance to get back into the rhythm. Shreyas Iyer can be dropped at number three in the absence of Suryakumar Yadav. But Deepak Hooda, who has been in good form, also cannot be ignored as he performed impressively at number three for Lucknow Super Giants.
Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik, who returned to the team, will take over the responsibility of the middle order. Pant will try to regain his momentum while it will be interesting to see if Karthik can maintain his IPL form. Hardik Pandya had batted at number three and number four in the IPL but he would be ready to return to the role of ‘finisher’ here.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar will head the pace department with ‘death overs’ specialist Harshal Patel to accompany him. Both of them will try to prove their mettle as only Jasprit Bumrah is sure to be selected among the fast bowlers for the World Cup. Avesh Khan will play the role of the third fast bowler but if he does not work then Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik may be given a chance to make their debuts.
The spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are returning to the team for the first time since 2019. With injured Ravindra Jadeja being considered certain for the World Cup and Chahal cannot be ruled out, Ravi Bishnoi, Axar Patel and Kuldeep will have to build their claim with strong performances.
South Africa have not lost a limited overs series in India since 2010 and have fielded their best team this time as well. For South Africa, the in-form David Miller, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram will play an important role. In the bowling department, he will be heavily focused on the spin duo of Tabrez Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj and the pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Norkia.
The teams are as follows:
India : KL Rahul (capt), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel , Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik.
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendrix, Henrik Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Norkia, Wayne Parnell, Dwayne Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabrez Shamsi, Tristan Van Stubbs, Rasi Der Dussen, Marco Yansen.