India vs South Africa, 1st T20I: 5 Key Battles To Watch Out For
India take on South Africa in the first T20I in New Delhi on Thursday.
Team India will huddle back for international duty as they take on South Africa in a five-match T20 International (T20I) series from Thursday. The first match of the series will act as a platform for the hosts to chase an all-time 13-0 T20I winning record and become an all-time great team in this format leading to the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2022. The first match won't be a walk in the part for the Rishabh Pant-led team as the Proteas will look to halt the winning streak and continue their impressive form against Team India.
Below are 5 key battles to watch out for during the highly anticipated series.
Rishabh Pant vs Anrich Nortje
The upcoming T20I series can be a serious match-up between Rishabh Pant's aggressive intent and the pace of Anrich Nortje. The Delhi Capitals captain, who finished the season with 340 runs at an average of 30.91 and a strike rate of 151.79, will certainly want to up the ante. His presence in the middle order adds more steel to the batting department, but it remains to be seen how the wicketkeeper-batter handles the pace of Nortje. The South Africa pacer, plying his trade for DC under the leadership of Pant, has been hit by quite a few injury woes. However, during the six matches that he played in the IPL 2022, he picked nine wickets and would be eager to raise the bar in the T20I series and against his IPL captain too.
Kagiso Rabada had a great IPL 2022, while Ishan Kishan's season was not as stellar as he would have hoped. Kishan, the most expensive player at the mega auction ahead of the season, scored 418 runs at a strike rate of 120.11. Pace machine Rabada, meanwhile, spoiled many parties with 23 wickets in 13 matches at an economy rate of 8.46. Kishan, however, can be explosive at the top and Rabada will want to get his wicket early.
South Africa's wicketkeeper-batter couldn't have asked for a better IPL 2022 season. Providing much-needed stability to the Lucknow Super Giants top order, de Kock registered 508 runs at an average of 36.29 and a strike rate of 148.97. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, meanwhile, may end up wanting a little more from the IPL, snapping 12 wickets in 14 matches with the economy of 7.34, but the pacer would like to leave his past behind and will try to level up his performance and beset Quinton de Kock with the variations in his bowling. The opening overs specially will be something to watch. With Bhuvi trying to get the ball swinging both ways, he could pose a challenge to Quinton. De Kock, meanwhile, will want to take his IPL form into the series.
South African skipper in limited overs cricket Temba Bavuma will be leading the team and while the hosts will pose a stiff challenge, he'll have to face the challenge of spin wizard Yuzvendra Chahal. The wily legspinner, winner of the IPL 2022 Purple Cap, bagged a total of 27 wickets in 17 matches with the economy of 7.75. Chahal would love to continue his prime form and get the better of Bavuma.
David Miller was one of the stars of the title-winning Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2022. Miller wrapped up the IPL 2022 season with 481 runs an average of 68.71 and a strike rate of 142.73. While batting in the middle order, he will be up against pace bowler Harshal Patel, who bagged 19 wickets with the economy of 7.66. So it will be exciting to watch whether 'Killer Miller' dominates his show or can Harshal outfox his South African opponent.
(The match will be telecast on the Star Sports network and can be live streamed on Disney+ Hotstar)