The T20 international series between India and South Africa continues on Friday when the two nations meet in the penultimate game of what is becoming a very interesting series indeed between two relatively evenly matched teams.
South Africa opened up a dominant position in the series when they claimed the opening two matches but India were finally able to get on the board in the third encounter. The teams head to Rajkot with the same equation as before. India must win to force a decider while South Africa will claim the spoils with a win here.
We had been waiting for the India bowlers to come to the party in this series and they finally showed up when they needed to the most in Visakhapatnam. It wasn’t as though India had done much wrong in the first two matches. They surrendered a favourable position in the second game when they had South Africa three down early but apart from that they did little wrong. Expectations within this side are just so high though that even the miniscule issues get magnified.
The one thing India have been able to draw confidence from throughout this series is that even without a couple of their big guns, in fact you could argue their three best players with the bat, they have been able to compete with the bat in this series. That is despite one or two in their top six not necessarily hitting the ball out of the middle of the bat. There is no reason why India won’t bat well here so if they bowl well again they have every chance of levelling the series.
I think it is fair to say that we have seen a much better South Africa than most would have thought we would in this series so far. I don’t say that disrespectfully but these are not generally conditions that sides away from the sub-continent thrive in so the Proteas deserve enormous credit for the position they have got themselves in. That is even more the case when you consider they too have been without a couple of key players in the last two matches.
We saw in that third game though that there are times when in these conditions South Africa will struggle with the bat. With the exception of the second game when there was a bit in the pitch for the bowlers, South Africa have struggled to contain India and they are going to have to bowl very well here in order to do that. Until that previous game they had looked good enough with the bat, although a few more runs from the top order would be welcome.
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Given that India stayed with the same XI after losing the opening two matches of the series it wouldn’t make a huge amount of sense for them to make changes for this game unless the injuries Harshal Patel is carrying rules him out.
South Africa had Quinton de Kock back in the nets on the eve of the match so they will be hoping that he is fit to play. He is likely to come in for Reeza Hendricks if he is fit. Although Aiden Markram is out of quarantine he won’t be playing any part in this series.
There have been three previous matches on this ground in this format of the game. The first two were very high scoring with first innings of 201/7 and 196/2 and although the second one was lower scoring that had Bangladesh batting first and even then India chased down 154/2 with more than four overs to spare so we can take from that that this is a high scoring ground and based on what we’ve seen in this series so far I expect that trend to continue.
The boundaries line for this match is 40.5 and in that first match where 201/7 was chased down there were 58 of them while in the second game when 196/2 was 40 too many for the chasers there were 44. Even in the lower scoring 153 vs 154 there were 37 boundaries so there is a good chance the boundaries will flow here, particularly if Quinton de Kock is back for South Africa. There were 37 boundaries in the last match where Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik didn’t hit one and South Africa were rolled over for 131. Over 40.5 boundaries looks good to me here.
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