IND vs SA T20I: Experiments apart, chance for Virat Kohli’s men to set record straight

India's preparation for next year's T20 World Cup begins with the three-match series against South Africa on Sunday.

Kohli in conversation with Krunal Pandya ahead of the first T20I.   -  Twitter @BCCI

In home conditions, Indian cricket looks different. There is almost a touch of invincibility to it. The growth in confidence has also reflected in the improved results overseas, particularly in the
shorter format.

But when one looks at India’s home record in T20s against South Africa, it surely needs improvement. India lost the opening two matches in the three-match series in 2015. However, India did avenge the loss in South Africa in February last year.

For skipper Virat Kohli the current series is an opportunity to set the record straight commencing here at the HCPA Stadium on Sunday. “We want to win every match in every format, no matter where we play,” said Kohli.

READ | India, South Africa in T20 team-building mode

The members of this South African team, under wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, appear easier to deal with, than their predecessors. But Kohli needs no reminding that shorter the format, brighter the chances of an upset.

For India, the trusted batting options are all there. Though back on familiar terrain, the top-order will have to bring out its best against an inspired attack, led by Kagiso Rabada. After all, given the
inexperience of the chosen bowlers, the onus to play match-winning roles lies heavily on the batsmen.

South Africa's interim team director Enoch Nkwe (C) leads the practice session at the HCPA Stadium. PHOTO: AFP



Meanwhile, the possibility of rain hampering the match cannot be ruled out. There was heavy shower on Saturday afternoon that left the lush green outfield very soggy. Though more rain was forecast on Sunday, the groundsmen were confident of play.

For the South Africans, some of whom have played in India as part of the country’s ‘A’ teams, the series offers opportunities to build some confidence against the available home bowlers.

Among the experienced, David Miller, de kock and Rabada can make things difficult for the Indians. Pace-bowling all-rounders Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo could provide some surprises.

Kohli indicated that India has 27 matches leading to the next T20 World Cup. On offer were opportunities “to check out the guys are up and coming.”

That also means in times to come, the batting line-up could also see a few regular names making way for some new ones.

Lance Klusener, former all-rounder who is here as the assistant batting coach, saw a chance for the South Africans against India’s inexperienced bowling.

READ | We are here to win games, says Lance Klusener ahead of T20I series

“That (inexperience of Indian bowlers) is an area we are going to take advantage of. Our focus will be on ourselves and the little areas that we can take advantage of. And may be, that’s one of them,” he said.

The visiting team can also draw some confidence from the fact that the only time, South Africa played the series-opener here, in 2015, and it won by seven wickets. Interestingly, only Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli, Miller and Rabada are the surviving members from the 22 involved in that match.

Since then, how much more has changed will be known on Sunday.

The teams:

India Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, K. L Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini.

South Africa: Quinton de Kock (captain), Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Reeza Hendricks, George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Tabraiz Shamsi.