On Wednesday, both Indian teams in South Africa – men and women – will look to take unassailable series lead at Centurion. With that, both are eyeing an ODI and T20 series double. While Indian women lead the five-match T20 series 2-1, the men lead 1-0 in the three-match series. Both have displayed confident and attacking brand of cricket and have been duely rewarded with results. For the Virat Kohli-captained men, complacency is the only factor that could prevent a 2-0 scoreline. They come into the second T20 on the back of a 28-run win in Johannesburg.
A strong show with the bat – 203 runs while batting first – and the ball – with Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking a fifer – has made it advantage India and by a considerable margin. The gulf between the two sides was evident during the ODI series which India bagged 5-1 and the T20 only affirmed that it has been continued into the shortest format as well.
For India, Kohli remains a question mark after hobbling off in the defence of the 204 run target in Johannesburg. A left hip problem forced him to sit it out in the dugout but he maintained that it was only precautionary. A knee issue during the first ODI earlier and the niggle now only highlights the strain Kohli puts on his body amid gruelling schedules. A win on Wednesday and the unit could consider resting him for the dead rubber in the third T20.
With the Supersport Park pitch behaving slower than the Wanderers, India could bring in a spinner to the mix while dropping a seamer. In that case, Jaydev Unadkat – who picked one wicket in the first T20 – could make way for either Kuldeep Yadav or Axar Patel alongside Yuzvendra Chahal.
The difference between India and South Africa in the first T20 was in the powerplay overs. Where India smashed 78/2, South Africa produced 41/2 and were never in reckoning to chase down the target. After Rohit Sharma’s smashing start, Suresh Raina joined in at No 3. With a slower pitch on offer, Raina could bat at a different position.
For the hosts, it is another moment where they have their backs against the wall. Just last week they were fighting to keep the ODI series alive and now are struggling to keep the T20 going. Despite change in faces, the result remained the same. To make things even trickier, AB de Villiers has been ruled out of the series to give him time to recover for the upcoming Australia tour. With no replacement being named, South Africa may go for the same side that took the field at Wanderers.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: JP 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, Jon-Jon Smuts.
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