Standing on shaking ground after losing the T20 series, Team India will play for respect when they take on the Proteas in the 3rd and final T20 to be played in Kolkata today. This would be the 2nd T20 international to be played at the Eden Gardens which is known to be a spinners paradise and this brings us to the 7 players who will be instrumental in winning the match for their respective teams.
Rohit Sharma and Eden Gardens have a special connection with most of his major records being created at this ground, from 177 runs on his debut to the world record of 264 runs in ODI’s against Sri Lanka, from winning the IPL for Mumbai Indians here to the double ton for Mumbai in Ranji trophy against Bengal. Sharma has been in scintillating form with his 100 in the 1st T20 which, unfortunately, went in vain, but team India will depend on him to pull off another memorable performance and continue his romance with Eden Gardens.
What can one say about the class and quality of Virat Kohli? Kohli is a gem of a player who has skyrocketed to one milestone after another in his cricketing career. His clinical performance in the 1st T20 with only 2 dot balls in his stand of 43 says enough for his style. Kohli’s wicket is a bowler’s delight and he is one of those players who the team can count on. His run out in the last game was one of the pivotal moments of the match and who knows what the result might have been had Kohli been standing on the pitch till the end of the Indian innings. Kohli is undisputedly a game changer and his performance will be key for India’s success.
Eden Gardens is known to be the spinner’s kingdom and the success of Sunil Narine in the IPL for Kolkata speaks volumes of how great the Eden wicket is for the spinners. Ashwin has earned his place in the Indian cricket team on the ground of discipline and consistency that is an inherent part of his bowling. After attaining heights of success in the shorter versions of the game, Ashwin wowed the audiences with his clinical performance against West Indies in his debut test series. Though not a selectors choice for series abroad, on the sub-continent wicket Ashwin is a batsman’s nightmare and the team will therefore India will be counting on Ashwin to lead them to a much-needed turnaround.
Not a sure addition to the team but Amit Mishra deserves mention here as the variations that Amit Mishra brings to the table might just be what India need for the essential comeback. Mishra has a sharp spinning leg break delivery, the top spinner, and a well-disguised wrong-un. Thus with a number of variations and surprises up his sleeve, Amit Mishra would be a good addition to the team as they take on South Africa in Kolkata. It would also be an element of surprise as the South Africans haven’t played him in this series yet and who knows a gamble like this might work in favor of India.
Anything said about the talent of Jean-Paul Duminy would be an understatement. Duminy falls in the same class as Virat Kohli, a player who can turn the game on its head. With a strike rate of 122.53 in T20s, Duminy is one of the most explosive batsmen of recent times. He is essentially a middle order batsman, but the highest score of 96* speaks volumes about the playing pattern of Duminy. Duminy has been phenomenal since the last two matches and has taken the team over the line on both occasions. So the key to winning for India is to get over the hurdle called Jean-Paul Duminy, otherwise he will do what he does, take the game away from his opponents.
(a footnote here would be that Duminy is a part-time spinner and the venue is Eden Gardens, so you get the drift)
What was Pakistan’s loss became South Africa’s gain and with abundant spinners in the Pakistani rooster Tahir fell into the hands of the Proteas and there has been no looking back. Tahir is a top class right arm leg break bowler and variations keep batsmen guessing and cause them to make mistakes. He is an attacking option for his captain and always makes breakthroughs whenever called into bowl. Being the highest wicket taker in the 2014 T20 world cup with an average of 10.91, is the proof of Tahir’s immense talent and he will be the frontline weapon for South Africa to break India’s batting attack at Eden Gardens.
Albie Morkel would be a special mention to this list in the light of his supposed comeback. Morkel was missing in action from the Proteas squad since 2013 with the emergence of explosive batsmen like David Miller. But his games in the various T20 leagues caught the attention of the selectors and he got picked back in the T20 squad as their spearhead pacer. Morkel brings hoards of experience on the table and his regular stint in the IPL makes him an authority on the subcontinent wicket. His previous performance vouch for his credibility as a bowler and hence as an important part of the South African team.