INDORE: It may be an inconsequential match on paper, but the India bowlers await another tough test against South Africa ahead of the T20 World Cup as the two teams meet in the final game of the three-match series here on Tuesday.
Having sealed its first-ever T20I series against South Africa at home, the India team management has decided to rest Virat Kohli and vice-captain KL Rahul for the final match. Kohli and Rahul will link up with the squad in Mumbai, from where the team is scheduled to leave for Australia on October 6 for the T20 World Cup.
Standby batter Shreyas Iyer could replace Kohli in the eleven while Suryakumar Yadav or Rishabh Pant may partner skipper Rohit Sharma at the top of the order. Since its early exit from the 2021 T20 World Cup about 11 months ago, the India batting has come a long way and looks formidable ahead of the next edition beginning later this month.
Heading into the ICC event, India’s high-profile top-three has hit top form, with Rahul allaying concerns about his strike rate with a sublime effort on Sunday. Kohli has batted at 140 plus strike rate since the Asia Cup while Rohit has come up with impactful innings over the course of the five games at home against Australia and South Africa.
No.4 Suryakumar is in a league of his own and seems to be batting at a much higher level than his teammates, so much so that Rohit is contemplating playing him straight in the team’s World Cup opener against Pakistan on October 23.
Pant is yet to bat in the series and though Dinesh Karthik got seven balls in the second T20I, he too would hope to get a hit in the middle. Jasprit Bumrah’s absence has compounded India’s bowling woes, especially in the death overs, but the team needs to find a way.
Deepak Chahar, who is among the World Cup reserves, has been impressive with the new ball but question marks remain over his efficacy towards the back end of the innings. Arshdeep Singh has made an impact both with the new and old ball, but was unusually expensive on Sunday. The variations that Harshal Patel relies on to keep the batters in check have not been producing the desired results since his return from injury.
Meanwhile, South Africa, which went down fighting in the previous match, would be keen to avoid a whitewash that could be morale denting.