T20 series preview: India v South Africa
It's not often South Africa go into a series, no matter the format, as underdogs, but the T20 series against India could well be their downfall, considering recent and historical form.
India A won the warm-up fixture in Delhi by a hefty margin, eight wickets to be precise, and the Proteas bowlers looked well out of place. This series will be much of the same, as the experienced duo of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are missing.
The pair are being rested for the shortest format, given the tour is three months long and an ODI and Test series are to come. But that means the pressure on newbies like Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris will be intense.
The Proteas spinners are also at a disadvantage. Amit Mishra and Ravi Ashwin are in superb form and have been playing much more than the Proteas have in recent months, while Imran Tahir is the most experienced for SA, and also the most erratic.
Batting-wise, the visitors are hoping skipper Faf du Plessis stays fit for the whole series and beyond, given his knee injury has only recently healed. He retired during the warm up after making 40-odd, just to be safe.
As it was, the rest of the order didn't look great, and if not for JP Duminy's blast at the end, they'd have had even less to defend. David Miller and Quinton de Kock will be especially eager to find form.
This series is probably India's to lose, to be honest. Led by MS Dhoni, with Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan ready to fire, and with superior spinners, the Proteas will need to get off to a flyer at Dharamsala, the one ground that will suit the pacemen.
For the Proteas, all-rounder JP Duminy will be vital. He's got experience in India, both for SA and in the IPL, and was the bets player in the warm-up. His spin will be crucial too, as he leads a rookie attack.
India will look to Amit Mishra. He didn't take as many wickets as Ashwin in recent matches, but had a lower average and gave away less runs. The stocky spinner will be confident of tricking the Proteas into giving their wickets away.
Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2014 WT20 SF: India won by six wickets in Dhaka
2012 WT20 Group: India won by one run in Colombo
2012 Only T20: SA won by 11 runs (D/L) in Johannesburg
2011 Only T20: India won by 21 runs in Durban
2010 WT20 Group: India won by 14 runs at Gros Islet
India: MS Dhoni (capt), R Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Mohit Sharma, Rohit Sharma, S Aravind, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Marchant de Lange, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Eddie Leie, David Miller, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Albie Morkel, Khaya Zondo
First T20: 2 October at Dharamsala
Second T20: 5 October at Cuttack
Third T20: 8 October at Kolkata
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