Visitors look to seal series in second T20 match
Centurion: A ruthless India have 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 Internati-onal, here on Wednesday.
India 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 beat New Zealand in the T20 tri-series’ final (on Wednesday as well), India would stay on in their current third position.
Word from the Indian camp is that Virat Kohli will be fit in time for the 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 on Wednesday.
Kohli had suffered a slight knee issue while fielding in the first ODI at Durban as well, but he brushed it off to score a fine hundred thereafter. Even so, another injury scare only underlines his exhaustive workload.
Wrapping up the series here might also enable Kohli to take time off and sit out the final T20I in Cape Town, keeping in mind his hectic schedule over the next three months.
If at all, India do need to consider his absence from this second match, then K.L. Rahul 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 have shown a propensity recently to play a left-arm pacer in their T20I XI, 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 the reckoning.
Even left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who hasn’t got a game on tour yet, could be considered given his ability to keep things tight.
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?
In Johannesburg, it was obvious that the team management had gauged conditions early and deemed 200 a par-score on that pitch.
Thus, their move to send Raina up and attack during the powerplay overs with Kohli held back to anchor the middle-order, allowing the returning left-hander a license to free shot-making.
To an extent, it does shore up India’s only frailty in the lower middle order particularly as the team management continues to back MS 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.