Yuzvendra Chahal (L) will be eager to settle scores with Heinrich Klaasen © AFP
Yuzvendra Chahal (L) will be eager to settle scores with Heinrich Klaasen © AFP

From winning few sessions but failing to overcome the final hurdle, India conceded the three-match Test series to South Africa in the penultimate match itself. Nonetheless, Virat Kohli-inspired team fought hard on a tough batting pitch at Johannesburg to gain a consolation victory in the final Test. They were eager to battle hard, take nasty blows and avoid a whitewash. They eventually succeeded, and marched ahead of their opponents — although an injury-prone side — in the preceding six-match ODIs courtesy the momentum earned in the Johannesburg Test.

India created history by winning their maiden ODI series, any series for that matter, in South African soil. They prevailed in the T20I series opener, before a blip in the second T20I made the scoreline 1-1. Was it a blip from India’s point of view? Or South Africa bounced back?

JP Duminy, in the second T20I post-match presentation, stated, “At the toss, we spoke about this being a semi-final and taking the series to Newlands. We kept our composure with the bat after taking early wickets.” They, like Kohli and his protégé Ravi Shastri often demands, wanted to show more intensity and did that successfully. In addition, South Africa’s early breakthroughs and composed batting performance — led by skipper Duminy and Heinrich Klaasen — showed them the way forward. In all probability, South Africa should field the same XI tomorrow. The only question before a young side, in absence of star players, will be whether they will be able to hold onto the momentum once again?

Likely XI: Jon-Jon Smuts, Reeza Hendricks, JP Duminy (c), Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Farhaan Beherdien, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dane Paterson, Junior Dala, Tabriaz Shamsi

India’s combination

With Jasprit Bumrah’s abdominal strain still being an issue, it will be interesting to see whether Team India take a gamble with him. With rumours floating on Kohli and Bumrah to be rested for Nidahas Trophy, the pacer may regain his spot (although Shardul Thakur had a good outing in his place). His yorkers and off-cutters will balance out the equation, something India missed the other night. With Jaydev Unadkat conceding over 11 (albeit with a wet ball), will he face the axe?

Think out-of-the-box!

India may accommodate a place for Akshar Patel. He is a wicket-to-wicket bowler, and will come as a breather for struggling Yuzvendra Chahal. On the other hand, Akshar’s entry would add to Hardik Pandya’s workload with the ball. But with Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India can take this risk.

Likely XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli (c), Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Akshar Patel/Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah

In the end, Saturday’s T20I would decide the eventual winner of the tour. With both sides winning one series each, it all boils down to Newlands, Cape Town — where it all begun.

Last word

India have never played a T20I at this venue. On the other hand, South Africa have won three out of eight encounters.

Squads

India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur.

South Africa: JP Duminy (c), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, Reeza Hendricks, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Chris Morris, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts.

Time: 9.30 PM IST