After a largely one sided, and mostly boring series against the West Indies, which was completely dominated by India, we may finally have something of a contest, as India take on South Africa.
The two old rivals shall play 3 T20s, and 3 Tests. The first T20 shall be played tomorrow in the picturesque environs of Dharamsala at the foothills of the Himalayas.
Dharamsala is one of the holiest towns in India. A great place to go to for those who need a new direction in life, meditate and contemplate. The Buddhist temples here are packed with visitors at this time of the year, many of whom shall be filling in the 23,000 strong cricket ground tomorrow.
India certainly are the favorites for this series. They have proven matchwinners in every position. Yes, there are a couple of positions that need filling up. India still don’t have a proper no. 4 and yet to finalize on the fast bowling backup to Jaspreet Bumrah and Mohammad Shami.
Could Navdeep Saini be the next big fast bowler from India? He is certainly quick, bowls at close to 150 kmh – perhaps the fastest bowler in India right now.
He will lead the fast bowling attack that also comprises of Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar, both highly talented young bowlers.
The batting looks very good. Shreyas Iyer may get the look ahead at no. 4. Manish Pandey may once again find himself sidelined. His has been a most disappointing career, filled with potential, but not much to show for it. His time at the top could well be running out.
As for South Africa, they had their worst World Cup since the time they made their re-entry into cricket in 1992. They no longer look the powerful and formidable cricket team they had been for much of the last 25 years or so. Frankly, there is no fear factor associated with South Africa any more.
Apart from Kagiso Rabada and Quinton de Kock, we can’t really think of another world class player in the South African squad. Kagiso is young, aggressive and fast, but he will be out on his own, with both Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel having retired.
Quinton de Kock similarly will lead the batting, and will hope to get some support from captain Faf du Plessis. Faf is a great captain, no doubt, but his batting has never reached the potential everyone thought he had when he started out as a young player many years ago.
Prediction: India to win, easily. They should dominate not only tomorrow’s match, but the entire series, the T20s and the Tests. This is a team that hates losing.
Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini
South Africa Squad:
Faf du Plessis (Captain), Temba Bavuma (Vice-captain), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Senuran Muthusamy, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Heinrich Klaasen
Watch India play South Africa at 7 pm on Sunday, live from Dharamsala.