The recently-concluded One-Day International series did not pan on expected lines for the cricketing world. While the current Indian side was expected to give the Proteas a run for their money in their own backyard, the hosts’ spectacular capitulation has left everyone stunned.
Barring the chase in the rain-affected game in Johannesburg, the hosts failed to put up a good challenge against the high-flying hosts. And the result is there for all to see. India blew away the beleaguered hosts to win the series 5-1.
Throughout the series, the visitors dominated the proceedings and ended the series with another dominating display. On Friday (February 16), India thrashed South Africa by 8 wickets in the final ODI. The sixth ODI panned out in a familiar manner. The bowlers first choked the hosts before Virat Kohli took the team home.
Bowling first, India bowled out the hosts for just 204 runs. In reply, the visitors rode on Kohli’s 129* runs knock to reach home inside 33 overs.
The focus will now shift to the upcoming three-match T20 series, starting on Sunday (February 18). Both the teams are in contrasting forms at the moment. However, both of them will be desperate to start the series on a winning note. So here we are taking a look at how India and South Africa should approach the forthcoming series.
With form and momentum on their side, India will enter the series as firm favourites. However, the team still has a lot to worry about. The in-form top-order and the bowling lineup has given India a formidable look. But the fragile middle-order is a weak link in the team.
The likes of Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik have not quite managed to deliver consistently. Even in the ODI series, the middle-order failed to come good. In such a case, the Proteas will once again target the weak link. Suresh Raina’s addition to the team can end the middle-order woes.
Barring this, India does not have much to worry about. They should approach the series full of confidence and should back themselves to win it. At the same time, they should also guard against complacency.
The hosts have every reason to be worried ahead of the T20 series. They failed to compete against India in every department and need a herculean effort to win the upcoming series.
Their top-order failed to provide the team with good start while their middle-order failed to provide solidarity. The bowlers also failed to deliver as India’s top-order made merry. Ahead of the T20 series, the hosts need to work their socks off to put up a good challenge.
The batsmen need to apply themselves against the formidable Indian bowling lineup while the bowlers need to be more sharp to stop the Indian juggernaut. They especially need to do their homework on India’s wrist spinners – Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
The spinners were one of the biggest reasons behind India’s success by taking a staggering 33 wickets together.
South Africa have played three T20Is against India in a bilateral series at home. Out of the three, India managed to win two while the hosts won one. Overall, both the teams have played 11 T20Is against each other. Indian won 6 of them while the Proteas won just 4. One game ended without any result.
However, South Africa had come out on top when the two teams met last time. India had hosted the Proteas in a three-game series which the tourists won 2-0.
For India, their wrist spinners and Virat Kohli will be the trump card. Expectations are high from the in-form trio. But the one player who will attract a lot of attention will be comeback man Suresh Raina.
The southpaw has not played for India over a year now and is expected to be drafted in the playing eleven. With ample experience at his side, Raina can give the tourists an upper hand.
For the Proteas, their talismanic batsman AB de Villiers will be crucial to their chances in the series. De Villiers was South Africa’s top run-scorer in the Test series but failed to get going in the ODIs. He will be keen to bounce back in T20Is and if he manages to do so, he can blow away any opposition.
For India, the strategy should be clear. With their bowling lineup not so experienced, India’s in-form top-order will be looking to pile the pressure. Moreover, with India’s middle-order not doing well in recent times, the top-order will have to provide the team with a good start.
Similarly, India’s in-form bowlers will be looking to make early inroads by piling pressure on the inexperienced top-order.
On the other hand, the hosts can pressurize India only if they managed to get rid of the top-order easily. If they manage to do that, they can restrict India to a low total by piling pressure on the fragile middle-order.