India and South Africa's T20 series will be a hard fought one
India is coming home after a long summer where they reached semifinals of the World Cup. In the wake of an unexpected loss to the Kiwis, they spewed wrath on a hapless West Indies. Poor Jason Holder and his men did not know what hit them and they lost each match. Now, India is having 120 points in their ICC test Championship and are on a rampage.
India's bowling department
When Ravichandran Ashwin sought permission to play county cricket, it was no surprise as India has tremendous bench strength to beat a team like South Africa. The omission of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, however, shows arrogance and overconfidence.
I do not undermine the capability of Deepak Chahar, Navdeep or Khaleel, but they lack mental composure to face counter attack. Dropping Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal is not as gobsmacking as Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya can fill the gaps.
India's batting department
India’s batting lineup is a world beater with the presence of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya. This line up can create ominous fear into any attack of the world especially in the Indian sub-continent.
The only solace for bowlers is that once the batsmen get out then Rishabh Pant is too erratic to be trusted. He can be match winner but he can hole out at any given point of time. India’s pacers are bunnies so If India is six down, the match is as good as lost. India’s tail is arguably one of the worst in the world.
On the other hand, South Africa had their worst showing in a World Cup. Their batsmen did not show any consistency and they were out playing prodigious shots. Faf du Plessis was the exception and he is not coming for the T20 series.
Instead, Quinton De Kock has been given the responsibility to lead the team. His best comes against India. He hit three consecutive centuries against India, a rare feat. In fact, Quinton has hit 15 tons in his career with nine coming against the Men in Blue. So, he loves Indian bowling and as he is the captain, we expect higher application.
South Africa's bowling department
The Proteas’ bowling is spear headed by Kagiso Rabada, who has given an interview saying that the media has given too much attention to Bumrah. He wishes to silence the gallery by a breathtaking performance. He is ably supported by Beuran Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorious.
In the spin department, Tabraiz Shamsi is just filling up the quota. So, their attack is a shade better than India on many counts. They may be blunted by Indian Batting but they cannot be taken lightly.
South Africa's batting department
Batting is the grave yard. David Miller has been failing on each occasion but he can rise like a phoenix in Indian sub continent due to his IPL experience and inexperienced Indian bowlers.
Rassie van der Dussen is the one who has showed promise and he has shown ability to knit innings. Hendricks and Temba Bavuma are just to carry on. So, if India takes the wickets of Kock and van der Dussen, the Proteas will be in major trouble.
Courtesy their battting strength India emerges as the clear favorites to win the T20 series. Even in South Africa they won the series as they could chase every score and their spinners could weave a web.
The situation, however, is a little different as the spinners are stock bowlers. If one decides not to take risks then then they cannot take wickets. Rahul Chahar, Washington Sunder, Krunal or Jadeja can contain but bamboozling is beyond them.
Advantage South Africa
In all the T20 venues (Dharamsala, Mohali and Bangalore) spinners do not take many wickets. Mohali and Bangalore are high scoring grounds so chasing a score is easy. Remember Australia chased a mammoth score at Mohali.
In Dharamsala, the ball swings and toss will be a crucial factor. Further all of India’s pace bowlers are hit-the-deck bowlers like Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini and Hardik Pandya. Quinton de Kock revels at cut and pull and he would be looking forward to facing the pacers. Further the Indian spinners in the lineup do not turn the ball like Kuldeep or Ashwin. So, players like Miller and van der Dussen can hit through the line.
I had not written any article on India vs West Indies as I knew it to be one sided affair. However, India has chosen a team that suits South African players so the matches will be contesting and cliff hangers. As Indian batting is a notch above the South Africa, I give a series win to India.
I dedicate the article to Late Abdul Qadir, whom I saw while growing up. In the time of pacers of West Indies and Pakistan he brought back the wizardry of spin to cricket. His queer action, quantum spin and his appealing brought color to the game of Cricket. We all owe him a salute.
Cover image credits: Hindustan Times