After a hard fought three match test series that ended in a 1-1 draw, South Africa play hosts to India in a one-off T20 International at the make shift Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban on 9th January. Having gone even-stevens in the test series, the Proteas will be keen to get a win under their belt before the teams begin the five-match ODI series. The Indians too will look to win and go into the ODI series with momentum on their side.
India vs South Africa Only T20i at Durban, 09 Jan, 2011, 6 PM IST
The Moses Mabhida Stadium at Durban was an iconic venue during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and will host its first ever T20 International on Sunday. 50,000 fans are expected to throng the stadium, in what will be the biggest ever cricket audience ever on the African continent. The match has been arranged at this venue to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in South Africa. Cricket South Africa will also be paying tribute to Makhaya Ntini and Sachin Tendulkar on this very special occasion, with the former playing in his final international cricket match and the latter being celebrated for his outstanding contribution to the sport, and in particular the role that India played in welcoming South Africa back from cricketing exile 18 years ago.
With 5 ODIs to follow, expect India to rest some of their exhausted test squad in this T20 International, while also giving some of the players who have just arrived some vital game time. Virender Sehwag has already pulled out of the limited overs series due to a shoulder injury, and one can expect his replacement Rohit Sharma to try desperately to stake a place for a World Cup berth. Gautam Gambhir was also injured in the test series, but batted bravely to rescue India on the final day of the third test. Chances are India will be keen to give him an extra couple of days rest so that he can be fit and ready for the ODIs to follow. Murali Vijay has been asked to stay back with the squad and should open the batting in Sunday's game.
All eyes will be on Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who is returning to the T20 side for the first time after 2006, when he played his first and only T20 International, coincidentally against the Proteas at Johannesburg. The batting maestro has had a very good test series where he brought up his 50th and 51st test centuries and will be hoping to continue his form in the shortest version of the game as well. While he does not usually play in T20s, chances are he will make an exception for this game, given the fact that it has been dedicated by Cricket South Africa to honour his contribution to the sport.
A lot of focus will also be on the stylish middle order batsman Yuvraj Singh, who had a few memorable outings at Durban in the T20 World cup in 2007. He was the chief architect in the crucial game against England, where he pelted Stuart Broad for thirty six runs in one over, scoring 58 off just 16 balls. He followed it up with another blistering knock of 70 from just 30 deliveries against Australia in the semis. The rest of the middle order is likely to include Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan.
In the bowling department, Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth have stayed back for the limited overs action while Ishant Sharma is heading home. Both pacers and Harbhajan Singh are likely to be rested given their heavy workload. Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar will all probably come straight into the side, while the selection of the replacement spinner will be a tough call between Ravichandran Ashwin and Piyush Chawla.
The Johan Botha-led South African side looks like the weaker side on paper and will need to play out of their skin to beat a strong looking Indian side. Upfront, the 25-year old Collin Ingram will fill in for Loots Bosman as the opener. Ingram, who made his T20 International debut against Pakistan in October 2007 at Abu Dhabi, had a good stint with the Warriors in the Champions’ League 2010 and is a good future prospect for the Proteas at the top of the order. The Proteas’ are further dented due to the injury of Jaques Kallis, who scored centuries in both innings of the third test to ensure that his side didn't concede the test and eventually the series to the visitors. With Alviro Peterson also being overlooked for this game, the likes of AB de Villiers and Jean-Paul Duminy will be the key men in the middle order. 21-year old David Miller has also been included in the squad and could feature in the side as a hard-hitting lower middle order batsman. Expect Hashim Amla to open the batting in place of the injured Graeme Smith, who is nursing a bruised hand.
On the bowling front, the Proteas will be without their strike bowler Dale Steyn who made the Indian top order look rather ordinary throughout the test series. But Juan Theron will be an equally dangerous customer with his impeccable line and length. He may not generate the amount of pace that Steyn often does but has managed to prove his mettle in the T20 format of the game. Theron, who plays for the Warriors, picked up eight wickets in the six games in the Champions’ League T20 2010 with a decent average of 21.12. Botha himself, had very good figures in the Champions’ League, picking up six wickets at an average of 22.83 for the Warriors. The squad for Sunday’s game also includes Makhaya Ntini and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, both of who played for the Warriors in the CLT20 2010 and picked up 10 wickets between them. Captain Botha also has the option of playing the bowling all rounder Robin Peterson on Sunday. The 31-year old, who made his T20 International debut against Australia in 2006, has played six T20 Internationals for South Africa picking up 8 wickets at a good average of 15.25 but has been a touch expensive at an economy rate of 8.22. His batting average isn’t very flattering but he can be a handy batsman down the order.
A depleted looking South African side will surely be under pressure for the Sunday’s game but with so many youngsters in their side looking to impress at the highest level and home turf advantage, it would be silly to write them off.
Squads Probable XI:
South Africa: H.Amla, C.Ingram, De Villiers, JP Duminy, D.Miller, J.Botha (captain), L. Tsotsobe, W.Parnell, J. Theron, R.Peterson, M.Ntini.
India: Vijay, Tendulkar, Kohli, Yuvraj , Raina, M.S.Dhoni (captain), Pathan, Ashwin, Patel, Nehra, P.Kumar