After a comprehensive all-round victory over the West Indies, India now start their home leg with a Twenty20 International series against the touring South Africans. The first T20I between the two sides will be held at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium, in Dharamsala on Sunday (September 15).
India and South Africa have faced off 14 times in the shortest format of the game. The hosts have had the upper hand, winning eight of those encounters to the Proteas’ five while one game was washed out.
Ground Details and Team Combination
The HPCA Stadium has historically favoured spinners. Out of the 66 wickets to fall at this venue across all T20Is, 38 wickets have been picked by pacers compared to 28 by spinners, with the latter recording a better strike rate, average and economy rate.
Across eight matches played at this venue, tweakers average 21.25 at an economy rate of 7.62 and strike every 16.7 balls while pacers average 28.13 at 8.01 and a strike rate of 21.
Left-arm spinners have been the most successful bunch at Dharamsala. They have returned 17 wickets in eight matches here at an average of 17.88 and a strike rate of 13.4.
Both India and South Africa have a fair share of left-arm spinners. While the visitors have the likes of Tabraiz Shamsi, Bjorn Fortuin and George Linde at their disposal, India boast of Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya in their ranks. However, going by experience and form that the Indians possess, picking one of them over their South African counterparts would be ideal.
That said, the true bounce and fast nature of the surface at the HPCA Stadium is likely to assist stroke-makers. A solid middle-order batsman backed up by two spinners and two pacers might be an ideal combination at this venue.
Rohit Sharma has an overall T20 average of 99.50 at this venue. He has played three 20-over games here (one for India, two at the IPL) and has one hundred and one half-century, striking at an impressive 154.26. What should further convince you to make Rohit the captain of your side is his record against the Proteas. He averages 37.88 against South Africa in 11 T20Is, striking at 136.40, which includes a century and two fifties.
Virat Kohli: No matter what the format of the game, Kohli remains the lynchpin of India’s batting unit. With the ball expected to do a bit early on in the innings considering the overhead conditions, India might need someone who can counter the movement and who better than arguably the best batsman in the world to do so. He averages a healthy 49.37 in the shortest format of the game and will, in all probability, be a crucial cog in the Indian batting unit.
His record in T20Is against South Africa isn’t too shabby either. In eight games, he averages 28.83 at a strike-rate of 141.80 with a highest score of 72*.
Kagiso Rabada: Rabada hasn’t played a lot of T20I cricket in the recent past but his IPL experience, coupled with the conditions in store, make him a hard man to leave out of any team. He was the star of the show for Delhi Capitals in this year’s IPL and although he had a middling World Cup, there is no doubt he will be one of the key members of Quinton de Kock’s side. He has a terrific record in India, averaging 19.75 across 23 T20s he has played in the country with 37 wickets to his name.
Krunal Pandya: Having impressed in the IPL, Krunal has taken to the international stage with the same gusto. He has not been around for too long but has done enough with both bat and ball to warrant a place for some time to come in the shortest format of the game. He can be the all-rounder you might want to place in your side.
Krunal has played 14 T20Is and has 14 wickets to his name at an average of 27.83. He has already been named Player of the Match thrice and Player of the Series once in his short international career and can be an all-round asset to the side.
The temperature is expected to hover around the 21 degree Celsius mark on Sunday and is bound to go down as the match progresses. There are also chances of thunderstorms in the evening, so we might have a truncated game at our disposal.
Predicted FanFight Team:
Rohit Sharma, Reeza Hendricks, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya, George Linde, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Anrich Nortje, Deepak Chahar