India face Proteas test before WT20 opener against Kiwis
India face a formidable South Africa in their final World Twenty20 warm-up game here on Saturday, a contest which promises to be a tough test of the hosts’ strengths before the tournament’s main draw begins on March 15.
India have been on a roll in the shortest form of the game of late, winning 10 of their last 11 outings which included a 3-0 whitewash of World 50-over champions Australia in the latter’s backyard.
They then went on to win the Asia Cup after outplaying Sri Lanka 2-1.
The five consecutive wins in Dhaka, including in the summit clash against Bangladesh that led to continental supremacy in the T20 game, has boosted their confidence.
At home in familiar conditions, they are a more dangerous threat to the rest of the competitors.
The practice match against South Africa appears to be more important for them as they had lost to the same country 0-2 in a best-of-three rubber before turning it around in the T20 format in Australia.
With Virat Kohli in terrific form and Rohit Sharma in sublime touch, the hosts have the batsmen to tackle the Proteas who too have some big-hitting match winners.
India experimented when they bowled, giving the ball to two off-spinners R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh to open the attack. It did not work as the duo went for a lot of runs when the field restrictions were on.
Against South Africa, there could be a change of plan to try out another strategy.
The encouraging thing for India was the return of Mohammed Shami who, along with veteran Ashish Nehra and rookie Jasprit Bumrah, gives a better look to the new ball attack.
Both left-arm spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Pawan Negi delivered the goods by taking a couple of wickets along with all-rounder Hardik Pandya against the Windies on Thursday.
South Africa too would be eager to move into the tournament on a positive note by besting the hosts first up before plunging into their opening Super 10 Group 1 contest against England here on the March 18.
South Africa have not won a World Cup or World T20 event, have not reached the final even. Faf du Plessis leads a strong Proteas outfit that has the likes of A B de Villiers, Hashim Amla, David Miller and Quinton de Kock, apart from the skipper in a formidable batting line up.
It has also some fine all-round players such as Chris Morris, Jean Paul Duminy and David Wiese to bank upon.
The world’s premier pacer Dale Steyn is there to lead the fast men like Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott and Chris Morris.
Spin, in the form of Pakistan-born leggie Imran Tahir and left arm Aaron Phangiso gives the Proteas’ team a well-balanced look. They are here after losing a T20 series against Australia 1-2.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (C), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, A B de Villiers, J P Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Roussouw, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, David Wiese.