South Africa vs India 2nd T20I: India looking to clinch series while South Africa aiming for a potential comeback
India have completely dominated South Africa in the shorter formats of the game in their tour so far. The Proteas are running short on time and injuries are not helping their cause either.
After losing the ODI series 4-1 earlier in the tour, South Africa will lose the T20 series as well if they do not put up their best show in the second T20 at the SuperSport Park. On a mission to find the right team balance and combination for the ICC World Cup 2019, South Africa seem to be going further and further away from their main agenda.
If they do not mark out some players to watch out for who can very well be in consideration for the World Cup squad, they would have to wait for a long time before the next limited overs assignment.
A fair argument is that the South African T20 side has not a lot to do with the ODI side, yet winning games is also about the mindset and the Proteas would not want to go on to important tours ahead of them knowing that they were outplayed in all departments in the limited-overs leg at home by a touring side. It is in this sense that the remaining two T20s become all the more important.
Even though India have dominated the series and the tour itself after the Test series, there are a few areas of concern in the Indian side as well. Till now their formula to victory is clear; the top-three will make sure there is someone who bats deep into the innings while the others revolve around him, making a score around 300 seem easily achievable.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, and the wrist spinners take care of the task of defending the total. However, India’s middle and lower middle order needs to take up the challenge and deliver more useful performances.
Even in the first T20, the kind of blistering start that Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan provided, India eventually appeared to be 15-20 runs short in comparison to that start. Although India comfortably won the match, India would require that cushion of extra runs in a pressure game in a big tournament.
South Africa would want to return to winning ways and take the series to the third and final T20, where they would love to have a go at winning the series rather than saving it. The experienced batsmen in JP Duminy and David Miller have to take up the responsibility and score runs while the bowling and fielding needs to come together as well.
All of this is possible but it looks improbable that things will fall in place so quickly, judging by how South Africa have played in the T20 match and considering their strengths and weaknesses with respect to the wicket at SuperSport Park which has been a spin-friendly wicket and slow in nature so far. The Indian wrist spinner duo then becomes all the more dangerous.
Eyes would be on Suresh Raina who failed to play a long innings on his international comeback after getting a chance to bat at No. 3 and also on Hardik Pandya whose batting potential hasn’t really been realized in the limited overs fixtures so far.
For someone of the reputation of Chris Morris, this could well be a crucial game, in which he would like to turn the tide in his favour and get some runs with the bat and a few wickets with the bowl too to improve his dismal numbers of the recent past.
Both the teams are likely to remain unchanged, since South Africa are a good mix of experience and youth, while India would not like to change much trying to go for the kill here. They would want to win the series first and then make a few changes perhaps in the dead rubber (if at all India win) in Cape Town.
The contest begins at 9:30 PM (IST) on 21 February, Wednesday with India starting as the favourites.