The Mahatma Gandhi-Nelson Mandela series kicks off today at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala as India takes on the mighty South Africans in the first T20 of the three-match series. It is a long tour for the Proteas and they’ll surely give a tough competition to the home side provided the big hitters and lethal fast bowlers in their team. South Africans have had a big hand in their IPL team’s success and would be wary of the sub-continent conditions.
The likes of AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis and David Miller are known for the smashing hits against any bowler they face. Certainly, AB de Villiers would be the x-factor in their team and Indian bowlers’ most dreaded opponent once he comes out to bat. As far as their bowling is concerned, Chris Morris, Albie Morkel and Kyle Abbott will look to crush the Indian batting unit. Imran Tahir’s brilliant spin bowling will play a crucial role in the Indian conditions and JP Duminy’s off-spin will come handy too.
Given that Dharamsala’s pitches are known to assist fast bowlers, it is likely that India will go with two specialist fast bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma, and include Stuart Binny as their third fast bowling option, ahead of Axar Patel. Given that captain MS Dhoni has always backed his team’s spin bowling strengths, India will be playing at least two spinners throughout the series. Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin will be a constant against South Africa unless injury strikes.
For captain Faf du Plessis, he has a lot of all-round options in his squad. Given that AB de Villiers might take the charge of the wicket-keeping gloves, South Africa would have the option of including an additional all-rounder. Eddie Leie was impressive against Bangladesh and the South Africa’s think-tank would want to surprise the Indians straightaway with his bowling.
South Africa: AB de Villiers(w), Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis(c), Jean-Paul Duminy, David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris, Kyle Abbott, Imran Tahir, Eddie Leie, Kagiso Rabada.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Stuart Binny, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma.