One-off T20I preview: South Africa v India

India

Some critics may describe flying to South Africa for a maximum 40 overs of cricket as an unnecessary distraction, but India are certain to go all out for victory when they face the Proteas in the one-off Twenty20 International in Johannesburg on Friday.

Some critics may describe flying to South Africa for a maximum 40 overs of cricket as an unnecessary distraction, but India are certain to go all out for victory when they face the Proteas in the one-off Twenty20 International in Johannesburg on Friday.

Cricket South Africa insist the match – in tribute to Jacques Kallis – is the perfect way to end the home international season for South Africa despite it coming three days after the end of their tour to New Zealand and four days before the start of the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League.

It could prove to be some welcome practice ahead of the glittering tournament, while also keeping half an eye on the ICC World Twenty20 later in the year.

India have signaled their intent to take the match seriously as a near full strength squad traveled to Johannesburg under the leadership of MS Dhoni. After being rested for the Asia Cup, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan were again given time off, but there is a welcome return to the side for Robin Uthappa who takes the place of Sachin Tendulkar.

There's plenty of all-round options for the tourists as Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin will complement the brothers Yusuf and Irfan Pathan.

Albeit playing at home, South Africa have a slightly tougher task as the management team and a number of players only returned home on Wednesday following the tour of New Zealand.

Coach Gary Kirsten acknowledged there would be a concern for jetlag, but remains upbeat about the contest. "It's diffiuclt, it's the end of the season and it's a one-off game, but I think we are going to keep it pretty lighthearted, if we can stay awake," said the Proteas coach.

However, only Kallis himself, was part of the Test side which returned this week, while the rest of the T20 squad is made up of short-form specialists.

Johan Botha will captain the side which is missing the experienced heads of Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

That paves the way for a number of fringe players desperate to impress the selectors as they begin thinking about the ICC World Twenty20.

Farhaan Behardien and Dane Vilas have been rewarded for consistent domestic form, while Justin Ontong and Richard Levi will be expected to score runs after an impressive showing in the T20 series in New Zealand.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe will front an attack that contains fellow left-armer Wayne Parnell, Rusty Theron and Albie Morkel.

<b>Key Men</b><br><i>South Africa:</i> If <b>Richard Levi</b> gets going, the Wanderers crowd will enojy some catching practice. The 24-year-old rose to international fame – earning himself an IPL contract in the process – when he smashed a 45-ball hundred against the Black Caps in Hamilton. It was the fastest century in T20 International cricket and after clearing the boundary 13 times, Levi was eventually dismissed for 117 off 51 balls.

<i>India:</i> In his last four knocks for India <b>Virat Kohli</b> has scored 133 not out, 108, 66 and 183. That recent form has made Kohli one of the most dangerous players in limited overs cricket and he'll be eager to continue piling on the runs.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><BR>December 2006: Only T20I: India won by six wickets in Johannesburg<br>September 2007: ICC World Twenty20: India won by 37 runs in Durban<br>June 2009: ICC World Twenty20: South Africa won by 12 runs in Nottingham<br>May 2010: ICC World Twenty20: South Africa won by 14 runs in St Lucia<br>January 2011: Only T20I: India won by 21 runs in Durban.

<b>Prediction</b><BR><b>India</b> lead the head-to-head stakes 3-2 and with South Africa playing under a different captain with an inexperienced squad, the tourists could certainly steal victory at the Wanderers.

Online betting firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>Sky Bet</B></a> has South Africa at 4/5 in the <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>betting</B></a> for victory in the one-off Twenty20 International. Visit Sky Bet for the latest cricket betting.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>South Africa:</i> Johan Botha (captain), Farhaan Behardien, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Rusty Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne van Wyk (wicketkeeper), Dane Vilas (wicketkeeper)

<i>India:</i> Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virat Kohli (vice-captain, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Gautam Gambhir, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Rahul Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Robin Uthappa, Vinay Kumar.

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