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India vs South Africa T20 Series Preview – Death Bowling Focus And One Final Chance For Pant

Harshal Patel and Rishabh Pant
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The Indian cricket team will have one last chance to fine-tune their preparations before the T20 World Cup in the 3-match series at home against South Africa. The Men in Blue’s three games against South Africa will be their final dry run ahead of their T20 World Cup opener against Pakistan on the 23rd of October. After a disappointing Asia Cup, Rohit Sharma’s side showed plenty of positive signs in the series against Australia, and here are three players in focus for team India ahead of the matchup against the third-ranked side in the world, the Proteas.

3 players to watch out for in the India vs South Africa T20 Series:

1. KL Rahul

 

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KL Rahul dominated IPL 2022, finishing the season as the second-highest run-getter behind Jos Buttler. The opener completely overshadowed his Indian top-order compatriots, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who both struggled heavily for RCB and MI.

Four months later, however, the roles have reversed. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are back at their best at the top of the order, with runs flowing freely from their bat. KL, on the other hand, has struggled to attain the same fluency. The Indian vice-captain missed three months due to a groin injury, and his form upon his comeback has been patchy at best. The opener has averaged 24 in eight T20I innings since his return at a strike rate of under 130.

Rahul has shown some signs of a resurgence in the Asia Cup, but the opener still needs more time in the middle to gain the confidence needed to reach the level we are accustomed to seeing from him in the shortest format.

2. Arshdeep Singh

 

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Bhuvneshwar Kumar had an economy rate of 13 in the T20 series against Australia, while Harshal Patel was tormented by the likes of Matthew Wade and Cameron Green, failing to execute his yorkers or variations at the death upon his return from injury.

Patel and Bhuvi are currently the front-runners to start team India’s first World Cup game against Pakistan but given their form off late, there could be an opportunity for one of them to be usurped. Neither bowler’s skillset is suited to the fast, bouncy pitches of Australia, and Arshdeep Singh may be a better option for the current Indian cricket set-up down under. The youngster offers the left-hand variety, more speed, and better accuracy at the death to complement Jasprit Bumrah. The pacer has an impressive economy of 7.4 at a strike rate of 16 in his short T20I career, and another strong showing against South Africa may make him impossible to leave out in the starting XI for Rohit Sharma’s side.

3. Rishabh Pant

 

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With Deepak Hooda injured and Hardik Pandya rested for the T20 series against South Africa, team India are likely to go with five bowling options and Rishabh Pant in the three matches versus the Proteas. This gives the left-handed wicketkeeper one final opportunity to impress and stake a claim for his spot at the World Cup. Pant averages just 27 at a strike rate of 130 in 26 T20I innings since 2021, and the Delhi Capitals captain has failed to replicate his IPL form into national colours.

The left-hander has struggled against the wide line from the spinners and a hard length against the pacers, managing just one fifty-plus score in the last three years in T20I cricket. Pant lost his place in the side in the series against Australia, but the 24-year-old has one final chance to showcase his talent and make an impression before the T20 World Cup against South Africa.

The South African threat

South Africa will be one of India’s primary adversaries at the T20 World Cup, with a squad full of players suited to the conditions in Australia and capable to lift the trophy.

In De Kock, Roussow, Markram, Miller, and Stubbs, the Proteas have one of the most dangerous batting line-ups in T20 cricket, while the pace bowling trio of Rabada, Nortje, and Ngidi can give any opposition a handful of trouble. The pitches in Thiruvanthapuram, Ranchi, and Indore are unlikely to be similar to those at the World Cup. But playing a team of this calibre at full strength will be a good yardstick for India to see how competitive they can be in this year’s marquee event in Australia.

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