Proteas Fastening Their Seat-belts As Kohli & Co. Are Set To Take An Unassailable Lead: Preview
Match- 2nd T20I
Series-India Tour Of South Africa, 2017-18
Date-Wednesday, February 21
Time-9:30 PM IST
Venue-Supersport Park, Centurion
After winning the test series 2-1, the ODI series was expected to be a tough fight between the top two teams even though South Africa lost the 3rd test and were lacking the momentum just a wee bit . But, to everyone’s surprise SA failed to put up a good fight barring the fourth ODI & eventually lost the series 5-1. After the ODI series loss, the onus on the African team is to make a comeback in the T20I Series. But they had the worst possible start after winning the toss and bowling first, giving away 18 runs in the first over of the innings. They pulled things back well in the latter half of the innings but they failed as a batting unit eventually losing the match by 28 runs.
Coming into the 2nd T20I, South Africa have a lot of problems to deal with. The major problem would be their fielding. Rated one of the best fielding teams in the world, South Africa’s fielding in this whole tour has been disappointing and below par to say the least. Time and again, the fielders have dropped crucial catches at crunch moments of the game and have failed to choke the ones and twos. They have not been able to put the pressure on the batsmen by allowing easy singles and doubles thereby letting the batsmen settle down on the crease.
Coming to the batting department, all of their batsmen have failed to live up to the expectations and score runs at will. With a relatively inexperienced batting line-up, the senior batsmen- JP Duminy and David Miller have to take up the responsibility on their shoulders and let the other batsmen bat freely around them. Reeza Hendricks and Farhaan Behardien to an extent, were the only bright spots in the 1st game with the former scoring a career best 70 and later striking few big hits in his 27-ball innings. In the absence of De Kock, wicket keeper batsman, Heinrich Klaasen took up his responsibility really well, taking great care behind the stumps and hitting few big ones when in front. South Africa might try and take a gamble by sending Miller up the order to have a go at the Indian bowlers in the powerplay and if works it might strike huge for SA as Miller, on his day, he can destroy any opposition single-handedly.
The bowling in the first game lacked tooth. Clearly, their short ball strategy to the Indian batsmen didn’t pay off, but the Indian batsmen took full advantage by using the pace of the ball to take it over the short boundaries of Wanderers. Junior Dala looked pretty impressive on his debut in the first game, picking two key wickets but was expensive as well. Tabraiz Shamsi had a good game and troubled the Indian batsmen, who are really good players of spin. But the main problem with the SA bowling in the previous game was they gave away 2-3 boundary balls every over which they batsmen cashed on. Tight line and length from the pacers and fewer boundary balls shall be their priority in this game.
After the first two tests of the tour, team India haven’t put a foot wrong and have got their plans right almost every time.
Dhawan struck a blistering 39-ball 72 before Bhuvneshwar Kumar became the second Indian bowler to claim a T20I 5-fer to help India register a win in the first game.
India has performed well with their all-round game and has tasted success with all the three departments. Their only worry would be the middle order. Time and again the middle order batsmen have failed to finish the innings and give their score the cushion it needs. Their batting has been over-reliant on their top 3, who if they fail might put the team in deep trouble. Apart from Rahane’s fifty in the first ODI, India’s middle order batsmen haven’t been able to justify the exploits at the top. Suresh Raina’s comeback augurs well for the team as he can send the ball soaring over the boundaries all over the park. It was a good decision from Kohli him at no.3 in the first game and with Virat himself at no.4 the top 4 looks very solid. Coming to the finisher’s role, no-one has been able to do it well so far and if Pandya is considered as the power hitter by the team, then sending him at no.7 is illogical. Pandya needs to step up the order for India to finish their innings in a high.
The bowling has been in great form throughout the tour, putting the opposition batsmen under pressure right from the word go. They haven’t bowled those easy boundary balls and the opposition batsmen were always forced to do something extravagant to get those boundaries. The only weak link in the bowling would be Hardik Pandya’s 4-overs. His pace hovers around the 135s but he isn’t a frontline bowler and doesn’t have that zip. If Pandya goes for runs, then its trouble for the leader Virat, as he doesn’t have a proper sixth bowler to back him up although Suresh Raina may chip in few. Hardik Pandya as the fifth bowler is the only weak part in otherwise a very good Indian bowling line-up.
The fielding by India has been top-notch. They held onto tough catches and never let the batsmen pick-up easy runs. They held the pressure on the SA batsmen with their right fielding and brilliant catching but failed to hold onto few moments where direct hits would’ve earned them wickets. They’ve created the chances on the field by not allowing the batsmen easy singles and doubles and thereby the batsmen were forced to take the risky runs putting their wicket in danger. If India hold on to these chances, then SA batting will be under lot of pressure and might crumble leading to a collapse.
If India play the same brand of cricket they’ve played throughout the tour and hold on to those half-chances on the field they’re almost unstoppable from winning the series in the second game itself.