India, after winning the ODI series in a one-sided contest, took on South Africa in a 3-match T20I affair, starting at Wanderers, Jo’Burg. The visitors emerged victorious in the series opener by a comfortable margin of 28 runs.
The Proteas, with their backs against the walls, were in dire need of a victory. But it was their unorthodox yet effective wicket-keeper batsman Heinrich Klaasen who responded to the situation and delivered the good for his side.
Klaasen was ably supported by his captain JP Duminy at the other end who finished the game for the hosts with 6 wickets in hand. The win at Centurion meant that South Africa remain alive in the series with the series decider at Cape Town.
Here we look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of the two sides, with two games done and dusted:
- Blistering Starts:
India traditionally adopted the conservative approach in the T20Is during the powerplay overs. Since 2015, the men in blue have the lowest run rate in the first six overs when compared to other major teams.
However, it is apparent that the issue has been addressed to the Indian team as the likes of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan gave India a flying start, without the fear of losing their wickets.
Furthermore, the promotion of Suresh Raina, who looked his flamboyant self in the series, is another confirmation of the issue of maximizing the powerplays.
- Middle order response
Unlike the ODI series, Indian middle order has responded brilliantly to situations during the back end of the innings. The likes of Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya have utilized the start provided to them in the two occasions of the T20I series.
India posted totals of 203 and 189 even after losing top-order wickets in clumps. In ODI series, the brittleness of the middle order was prevalent during the slog overs.
- Death bowling/Wickets during powerplay
India’s premier seam bowling pair Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have been brilliant in the series so far. India clearly missed the services of Bumrah in the second match at Centurion which they lost.
India scalped 5 wickets in the powerplays. Even Shardul Thakur and Hardik Pandya chipped in vital spells throughout the matches.
- Spin bowling
India’s strength in the ODI series has quickly turned out to be their weakness in T20Is. This also depicts the fickle nature of the game.
With the injury to Kuldeep Yadav, the wrist spin department has struggled, which has greatly benefited South Africa during the middle overs.
Chahal created the record for bowling the most expensive spell for an Indian in T20Is. In two matches spinner have taken only 1 wicket for India. Also, Kohli’s apprehension for part-timers such as Raina and Rohit Sharma hasn’t helped their cause.
- Composure Under Pressure
India steamrolled South Africa during the ODI series. Which means, India mostly remained untested throughout the limited-overs leg of the tour due to the one-sided nature of the games.
Kohli’s captaincy and the team’s composure during crunch situations of the game came under scrutiny during ODI loss at Jo’Burg and T20I loss at Centurion. All of a sudden we see players getting agitated at each other with their respective fielding efforts.
Also, the defensive mindset of the players prevailed in the outfield. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a couple of times, preferred to save boundaries, rather than taking risks by going for a catch.
- Resurrection in the middle
In both the games, South Africa was precariously placed after the end of the powerplays. It was Reeza Hendricks and Farhaan Behardien who took the game deep at Wanderers.
At Centurion, it was JP Duminy and Heinrich Klaasen who tormented the Indian bowlers in the middle with their range of stroke play.
As far as South Africa is concerned, they capitalized in the middle overs, in spite of early wickets, which resurrected their innings twice now.
- Early wickets by Junior Dala
Junior Dala came in as a surprise package for the Indians. Dala clinched four priceless wickets up front whenever the Indians have looked to take the attack to the opposition. Dala’s spells in the powerplay turned out to be Goldust for skipper JP Duminy.
- Spin department
Interestingly, South Africa’s spin department has dominated the Indian spin efforts in the T20I series. Shamsi bowled a decisive spell at Jo’Burg where he was responsible for Indian retardation in the middle.
Duminy was able to slip in a couple of overs from part-timer JJ Smuts in both matches as well as bowl himself without conceding plenty. This gave plenty of breathing space for South Africa.
- Dismal Starts
Unfortunately for South Africa, their T20 specialist, JJ Smuts hasn’t risen to the occasion. Moreover, the top order looks solid with Hendricks and Duminy who have chipped in with remarkable contributions already in the series.
The South Africans lost 5 wickets in the during the powerplays and added only 48 and 50 during the field restrictions.
- Dane Paterson’s quota of overs
Dane Paterson has been exorbitantly expensive in his eight overs of the series, going for 51 and 48 in the two matches. Paterson’s line, lengths and speeds directly fall into the comfort zones of the Indian batters.