March 24 2018
Ruthless India must guard against complacency
21 February 2018

Down 1-0, it’s now or never for South Africa as it takes on the visitors in the second T20I

A ruthless India has only complacency to guard against while a deflated South Africa would be fighting another battle of survival when the two sides clash in the series-deciding second Twenty20 International, here on Wednesday.

The Men in Blue won the first T20I at Johannesburg by 28 runs and a victory on Wednesday will see them wrap up another series win on this tour.

A highly competitive 1-2 loss in the Tests, followed by a comprehensive 5-1 ODI triumph has made for quite a roller-coaster tour so far and the Indians would be aiming for a happy end to the long sojourn with a T20 victory.

A prospective 3-0 series’ win would also help India climb up the ICC T20I Rankings and take up second spot behind Pakistan.

However, if Australia beats New Zealand in the T20 tri-series’ final (on Wednesday as well), India would stay on in its current third position.

Kohli boost

Word from the Indian camp is that Virat Kohli will be fit in time for game.

The skipper had hobbled off in latter stages of the previous game on Sunday with a left hip problem.

The team management had deemed the issue as “nothing serious”, and as such, he is expected to walk out at toss time. India do need to consider his absence from this second match, then Shreyas Iyer would come in as replacement.

He was left out from the previous game in favour of Manish Pandey, but now comes back into reckoning owing to Kohli’s pending fitness ruling.

However, it is not expected to be the only change to the playing eleven. While India has shown a propensity recently to play a left-arm pacer in its eleven, Jaydev Unadkat’s inclusion in the Wanderers game was perhaps down more to the good batting conditions on offer.

The pitch at Supersport Park has played slow throughout this tour and the same is to be expected once more. In that light, India could once again opt for two spinners in the eleven, and ‘chinaman’ Kuldeep Yadav comes back into reckoning.

Left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who hasn’t got a game on tour yet, could be considered given his ability to keep things tight.

Surprising element

The one surprising element for India was Suresh Raina’s elevation to number three. If Kohli does play, will he repeat this ploy once again?

To an extent, it does shore up India’s only frailty lower middle order particularly as the team management continues to back M.S. Dhoni in the shortest format.

The former skipper is also reluctant to bat higher up in keeping with his penchant for finishing off the innings.

Kohli’s ‘demotion’ to No. 4, despite staggering average at his favoured spot, helps stabilise the lower middle order at least in the short term.

Time to fire

Meanwhile South Africa had faced a do-or-die moment in Port Elizabeth and now has its backs up against the wall for a second time in eight days. A.B. de Villiers is now ruled out of this series. So, J-P. Duminy must find solutions from within the available squad.

It is easy to assume the same playing eleven could take the field yet again.

It remains to be seen if the Centurion pitch will provide enough bounce to try out the short-ball ploy once again, or indeed if the Proteas have thought of a plan B this time around.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur.

South Africa: J-P. Duminy (capt.), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, Reeza Hendricks, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Chris Morris, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi and Jon-Jon Smuts.

Match starts at 9.30 p.m. IST



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