India’s quest for glory will face a stern test in hungrier South Africa, giving skipper Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri to put their thinking caps on and contemplate on tactics a little more. The Men in Blue have been clinical being unbeaten against decimated the Caribbean side.
South Africa, on the other hand, suffered a horrific defeat in the recently concluded ICC World Cup 2019 and players, from a distance have looked shattered and slumped to a quiet place. The way World Cup panned out for them, was nothing short of a disaster and their mental fatigue cannot be underestimated.
The two teams will be playing three T20 Internationals and as many Tests starting on 15th September in Dharamshala. Interestingly, the last time two teams met in India for the T20 series, it started at the same venue and South Africa emerged as victorious. Thus, the India team will look to redefine that period and script the unsaid story.
With this, CricTracker brings to you India’s predicted XI for upcoming series
1. Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Twitter)
After starting at the bench in the recently concluded Test series, India’s limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma will once again be seen donning the colored jersey against the Proteas.
Against West Indies, he looked in fine touch and fact, was one of the very few batsmen who looked at ease on a sluggish pitch in Florida. He top-scored for India in both games he played and was striking the ball beautifully.
Moreover, the shortest format of the game tastes palatable to the 32-year-old and will certainly be eyeing to continue in a dazzling touch on the home soil. His performance will be vital for team India’s success at home.
2. Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)
The mustache rolling southpaw, Shikhar Dhawan hadn’t had the best of returns to the International circuit after suffering thumb injury against Australia in quadrennial tournament. In T20Is against West Indies, Delhi left-hander managed to add mere 27 runs with the willow in three innings and 23 of those came from single innings.
Dhawan struggled against skiddy pace and bounce which eventually made his case weak against West Indies’ bowlers. Having said that, the 20-over cricket is Dhawan’s preferred format. He has done exceedingly well in Indian conditions.
Further, he has been able to shut his critics in the past and is expected to do it once again when India will face South Africa at home. His heroics in the 2013 Champions Trophy are certainly fresh in the memory which he would want to replicate for spectators in the shortest format.
3. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Watching this India team play is like following a long-distance race where the gap between the winner and the others gradually opens up—that’s how Virat Kohli’s team gets the opposition. There’s little to separate the sides in the early skirmishes, but as the contest hots up the difference in quality begins to show. West Indies was the latest example of this.
A key component is his ability to lead from the front. The individual blends dedication and grit while epitomizing the facet named perfection in the most beautiful way possible. Virat Kohli’s inclusion in the team as a batsman not only adds a cherry to the delicious cake but also lets the cake smell good which eventually makes the opponent worry even before the start of play.
Virat Kohli’s ability to convert ones in twos and twos in threes make the whole difference. He silently builds his innings and accelerates when the opposition is least expecting. There have been many captains who have been worn out by the pressure of leading the side – but not him. It will not be a surprise if the upcoming series adds another chapter to his glorious career.
4. Manish Pandey
Manish Pandey. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Manish Pandey, a name that will stay in history as the first Indian cricketer to score a spectacular hundred in the world’s most lucrative league – Indian Premier League (IPL). An unbeaten hundred which propel Royal Challengers Bangalore’s way into the knockout stages in the second edition of the IPL was probably the innings that shaped his career as well. The unbeaten 114 runs helped the then-teenager to shot the limelight and announce his credibility at the world platform. Since then, Pandey has never looked back.
His superlative dream run played a vital cog for Karnataka in the initial years. However, his barnstorming start did not immediately help him with desired returns. Nevertheless, the unsung hero of Indian Cricket Manish Pandey’s breakout came six-months after his International debut when he single-handedly won the game for his country in Sydney against a promising side like Australia.
The innings not only defined his technique but also led the populous to witness his temperament at the world stage. Post that, Manish Pandey had a lean patch which led to questioning his selection in the limited-overs arena. The upcoming home series will certainly be seen as a make or break series as the youngster remains to be tested. Having said that, he will certainly start as a favorite in India’s playing eleven.
5. Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant. (Photo by Christopher Lee-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has started to see Rishabh Pant as the first wicket-keeper choice for the Indian team across all three formats of the game. However, the young star sensation hasn’t been able to do justice to the faith which has been showered upon by the management.
In the recently concluded West Indies tour, Pant managed to score just one fifty, which came in the final T20 International. Except for that innings, Pant didn’t manage to contribute much with the bat in hand.
As the Indian team sets the clash against South Africa, Pant will once again have a big opportunity as the team looks to give him an extended rope. He had a successful Indian Premier League (IPL) season and will be hoping to continue that form in national colors and cement his spot in the team.
6. Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya. (Photo Source: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
India’s very own Caribbean boy, Hardik Pandya was rested for the West Indies tour and will start fresh in the upcoming series. Hardik was rested from the tour after a long season that included tours of Australia and New Zealand followed by the Indian Premier League and the World Cup.
Hardik’s workload had been a concern for the team ever since he picked up a stress-fracture injury at the Asia Cup last year and the lower-back stiffness that forced him to miss the ODIs against Australia at home in March.
Thus, on his comeback, Hardik will be looking to continue his dazzling touch with the bat. Moreover, with none of the top five being able to bowl, he will be India’s sixth bowler.
7. Krunal Pandya
Krunal Pandya. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)
Krunal Pandya has been a regular face of the Indian T20 side since November last year. He has done well but tends to go for a few runs. However, the team management has backed the Baroda all-rounder and he might be a crucial part of their plans for next year’s T20 World Cup.
In the T20 series against West Indies, Pandya did well in the first two T20Is. He returned with figures of 1/20 and 2/23 in the two games as India produced near clinical bowling performances. He was very tight with his line and length and also picked up key wickets in the middle.
Moreover, Krunal did well with the bat too. He struck an unbeaten 13-ball 20 which included a couple of big sixes in the second game. Thus, for his knock of 20 and two wickets, he was awarded as the player of the match. His small contributions will be vital for team India’s success against South Africa.
8. Washington Sundar
Washington Sundar. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Washington Sundar may not have picked up a lot of wickets. He picked up mere two wickets in the three-match series. However, the bowling all-rounder has been very economical against West Indies.
He returned with figures of 1/18 in the first game as West Indies was decimated for a mere score of 95 runs on the board. He went wicketless in the last encounter as the Windies batsmen played him out with ease. However, there were occasions where it looked difficult to play him.
This was Washington Sundar’s comeback series as well. This remains to be seen if the young lad can fix his place into the squad and continue to stay in the limelight. With Hardik Pandya returning, his performances will be seen closely by the Indian selectors.
9. Rahul Chahar
Rahul Chahar. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Rahul Chahar received maiden national call-up against West Indies after a prolific run in the twelfth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The 19-year-old leg spinner even translated that success at the India ‘A’ level and eventually came into the limelight. Thus, in the absence of the two-premier wrist-spinners, Chahar will most likely get a chance in the XI.
The young sensation warmed the benches in the first couple of games before getting a chance in the final T20 International. The nervous instinct got over him in the first two overs, but he came back strongly in the third over to scalp Carlos Brathwaite as his debut wicket.
However, he didn’t return to spell to complete his quota of overs. Thus, the Indian team management will look to give the youngster more game time before coming to a conclusion.
10. Deepak Chahar
Deepak Chahar. (Photo Source: Twitter)
The 26-year-old fast bowler started at the benches for the first couple of games as Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini stepped in. However, when Deepak Chahar got his chance in the final T20I, he was brilliant. He ripped through the West Indies top order and had them in early trouble.
Chahar got the ball to move both ways appreciably as he picked up three wickets in his first two overs. He bowled a terrific opening spell as he bowled three overs for four runs and three wickets.
Moreover, Chahar has been excellent for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in IPL and has been one of the reasons for their success in the last couple of years. Thus, his contribution in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami will be vital to India.
11. Navdeep Saini
Navdeep Saini celebration. (Photo Source: RANDY BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)
The right-arm speedster caught everyone’s eyes in his debut series with his skiddy pace and bounce. Saini managed to scalp three wickets on his debut outing for India which became a talking point for cricket pundit around the globe.
However, he was taken for runs in the second game. He blew hot and cold in the third game as he got a couple of wickets. But the youngster has Virat Kohli’s support and will be looking to express himself more consistently in the games to come.
Thus, Saini will not only look to make an impact in this T20 series, but he will also look to prepare well for next year’s World Cup in Australia. Along with Deepak Chahar and Khaleel Ahmed, he will be crucial in the pace department in this series.
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