India vs South Africa 1st T20I: Preview, probable playing XI, pitch report, weather forecast, key statistics
Sparkling with confidence, the Men in Blue aced their lengthy Carribean assignment and will be looking to kick off the home season on a positive note.
Despite developing into an unrivaled powerhouse in the 50-over format and Test arena, India have struggled to crack the code in the shortest version of the game.
With preparations underway for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year, India need to focus on discovering the winning formula alongside effectively grooming individuals for respective positions in the team.
Meanwhile, the Proteas, in an attempt to remodel themselves following a lackluster World Cup campaign, have introduced several new faces into the squad.
Francois du Plessis has been rested for the T20I fixtures and wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock will take over the captaincy reigns as the management ponders upon leadership options ahead of the upcoming showpiece event.
Mediocre batsmanship was the prominent reason behind South Africa's dismal show in the World Cup and that's something they will look to address moving forward.
Moreover, pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada needs to fire on all cylinders if the visitors are to stand any chance against a dynamic Indian outfit.
The picturesque venue laced with snow-capped mountain ranges in the backdrop offers a heavenly surface for batting. Expect a run-fest on the hard rolled-in surface.
The dew that could play a part later in the evening should ensure that the captain that wins the toss opts to field, although the pitch is expected to get slower and take turn as the game progresses.
South Africa defeated India last year on this particular ground chasing down a mammoth total of 200, and will take plenty of confidence from that result heading into this game.
Persistent showers and overcast conditions are expected on match day. Daytime temperatures are expected to be around 23°c and could plunge to around 16°c at night, with the humidity expected to be around 76%.
Likely Team Combinations
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are set to open the batting for India. KL Rahul is likely to bat at number three. In-form Shreyas Iyer might just get the nod ahead of Manish Pandey, who fared poorly in the T20Is versus West Indies.
Hardik Pandya should walk into the playing XI straightaway. It will be interesting to see who gets the captain's vote between the spin quartet of Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, and Rahul Chahar. Krunal is the favourite considering his prowess with the bat.
Navdeep Saini, Khaleel Ahmed, and Deepak Chahar will comprise the lethal pace battery.
India: Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (Captain), Shreyas Iyer/ Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.
The Proteas will take the field with a new-look batting line-up bolstered by the services of proficient all-rounder Bjorn Fortuin. The pace of Junior Dala, stalwart Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje will be crucial, while Tabraiz Shamsi is expected to be the lone spinner in the side.
Gangly left-arm paceman Beuran Hendricks is likely to be drafted into the XI considering his abilities at the death.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (captain), Rassie van der Dussen (vice-captain), George Linde, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje/Beuran Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi.
India have won 8 and lost 5 of the 13 matches played against South Africa, with a win percentage of 61.53.