India will take on South Africa in the first T20I of the three-match series at Kingsmead in Durban. The team, missing a few regulars, emerged unscathed in the short series against Australia in India, winning it 4-1. However, the series in South Africa will be quite a different challenge altogether away from home.
With Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s future uncertain, the top priority of the side is to groom players who can bat in those positions and deliver consistently. As regards bowling, in the absence of Hardik Pandya, the side has made a habit of operating with just five bowlers in games and we might see a similar tactic from skipper Suryakumar Yadav in the series. It has worked more often than not for Indian conditions. On overseas pitches, two spinners in a five-man bowling attack might handicap the skipper for options.
Aiden Markram-led South Africa would be quietly confident after the recently-concluded World Cup and will be hoping to go one step further in the T20 World Cup later next year both in terms of performances and results. They have picked up many young faces in the squad for the series and it will be a good test for these players against a quality Indian side.
Shubman Gill back in the side
The youngster has been called as one for the future, the one who can carry the Indian batting order on his shoulders. With the big guns in the top order unavailable, it is Gill who needs to take responsibility for making those big scores at the top while anchoring the innings. However, it is not going to be easy for the batter as the conditions in South Africa will offer more pace and bounce than conditions the youngster has faced before.
Ravindra Jadeja’s role as vice-captain
The all-rounder struggled as captain for Chennai Super Kings in the 2022 season and seemed like it even affected his game. However, Jadeja has been given another opportunity in the leadership role in a bigger capacity and it will be interesting to see this time around how he reacts to the responsibility. Along with that, his finishing skills and his ability to keep a lid on run rate in the middle overs are also something that need to be watched.
A look at Donovan Ferreira
The Proteas have an abundance of hard hitters down the order. Ferreira is one of those players. The right-handed batter, who comes lower down the order, can clear the boundaries with ease and can inflict serious damage to bowling sides. In 39 T20s, he averages 32.20 and strikes at 152.47. He also can chip in with the ball if needed in the middle overs and can keep things tight in the middle overs.
India playing XI: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav (capt), Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh
South Africa playing XI:Reeza Hendricks, Matthew Breetzke, Aiden Markam, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Donovan Ferreira, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Gerald Coetzee, Nandre Burger, Tabraiz Shamsi