The retirement of stalwarts from their previous generation, and a change in leadership have left South Africa wearing a thin look, but starting with the series against India, they have a year to build up before the T20 World Cup
India v South Africa, 1st T20I
Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala
Sunday, 15 September; 07:00pm local time, 01:30pm GMT
Four years after they kickstarted their previous tour of India with a 200-run T20 chase, South Africa return to the site of that triumph – Dharamsala – a changed outfit. Three of their stalwarts from the previous generation – AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn – aren’t around, while Faf du Plessis isn’t in charge of the T20I team.
This is the start of a new era in South African cricket, one they will usher into with Quinton de Kock as their captain in the shortest format. After a disappointing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, they have exactly a year to rebuild and show up for contention at next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia. That work begins now, with the tour of India, where they clinched the T20Is 2-0 the last time they visited these shores for a bilateral series.
India, ranked fourth in the world, haven’t exactly cracked the T20 code. This is the start of a big cycle for the Virat Kohli-led team in the shortest format, where they are slated to play nine more games by the end of this year, and a further eight by next summer’s Indian Premier League.
Coach Ravi Shastri has already spelled out the need to have a long-term T20 vision, a lot of which will involve infusing youth into the squad. That has already begun with the inclusion of Khaleel Ahmed, who has been around for a while but is still unsettled and just 21, alongside those of the Chahar brothers, off-spinning all-rounder Washington Sundar, and fast bowler Navdeep Saini.
Remember the last time
A second-wicket partnership of 65 between Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina set India up for a tall total 172, before Bhuvneshwar Kumar led a strong bowling performance to rein the hosts in by seven runs, as India clinched the deciding third T20I at Newlands and won the series 2-1.
What they said
Rassie van der Dussen, South Africa batsman: "Quinton is one of those guys who leads by example. He doesn't always say a lot, but when he speaks he says really valuable things.”
Ravi Shastri, India head coach: "The vision is to keep the consistency level going. It will be a team in transition, and one has to keep an eye out for the youth and also keep an eye on developing the bench strength as far as batting and bowling goes across all three formats” – as told to Gulf News.
Showers could hit Dharamsala in the afternoon, although it should be pretty cool even with the sun out. Dharamsala hasn’t hosted a T20I since the ICC World T20 2016. New Zealand successfully defended a total of 142 in the last match played here.