The five-match T20I series between India and South Africa has lived upto the expectations so far. The visitors won the first two clashes while the hosts made a strong comeback in the third. The two teams will now meet at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on June 17.
The third game Visakhapatnam saw Rishabh Pants’ men hammer the Proteas by 48 runs. Temba Bavuma won the toss and put India to bat first for the third time in a row. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who had a difficult start to his international career, showed his true class on Tuesday as he blasted his way to 57 off 35 balls.
Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan put on 97 runs for the first wicket in just 10 overs. After Ruturaj’s dismissal, Kishan changed his gears and brought up his second fifty in three games, scoring 54 off 35.
The Men in Blue were looking on course to a score in excess of 200 but lost their way, losing Pant, Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, and Dinesh Karthik. Hardik Pandya’s 21-ball 31* at the back end propelled them to 179/5.
Defending the target, the hosts took wickets at regular intervals and reduced SA to 57/4 in nine overs. The visitors had high hopes from in-form David Miller and last game’s hero Heinrich Klaasen, but Miller fell to a slower ball by Harshal Patel in the 11th over.
Klaasen did put up some resistance with his 29 off 24. However, South Africa’s hopes ended after he was dismissed to Yuzvendra Chahal for the first time in T20 cricket. Chahal snared 3 for 20 in four overs. Harshal claimed 4 for 25 in 3.1 overs as they dismissed the visitors for 131.
Earlier in the series, SA won the first game by seven wickets while chasing 212 at Delhi and claimed the second game chasing 149 at Cuttack with four wickets to spare.
One of the best opening batters in India, Ishan Kishan has scored 357 runs in his last eight T20 innings at an average of 45, including three fifties. The left-hander has been terrific in the ongoing series, scoring 76 off 48, 34 off 21 and 54 off 35 in three innings. He remains a key player for India at the top of the order.
Harshal Patel has picked 72 wickets from just 43 matches in the shorter format since 2021. Harshal has been a bit expensive in international cricket but was superb in the last game, picking 4 for 25 at Visakhapatnam.
Left-hand batter David Miller has scored 464 runs in international T20s since the start of 2021 at an excellent average of 52 while striking at 153, including three fifties. Miller was magnificent in the first match of the series, where he smashed 64* off 31.
Dwaine Pretorius has been given a bigger role in the South Africa T20 set-up, having been trusted to bowl difficult overs and bat higher up in the series. The all-rounder has scored 53 runs and picked four wickets in the ongoing series. Pretorius was superb with the ball in the third T20I, snaring 2 for 29 in his four overs. Overall, he has 27 wickets and 223 runs in international T20s.
H2H: India and South Africa share a neck and neck rivalry with the latter edging by 10-8. In the last five games, South Africa lead by 3-2.
Despite losing the first two games, India stuck to their playing XI. Ishan Kishan, Gaikwad, Iyer, Pant, Pandya and Karthik form a strong batting unit. In the bowling department, they have Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Chahal and Axar Patel.
South Africa lost Quinton de Kock to an injury while Aiden Markram was tested covid positive. Their batting unit has some holes with a lot riding on Miller, VDD and Klaasen. They have a stable bowling attack, comprising Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi and Pretorius.
Overall, India have a better all-round side and will be confident after the last victory. They are strong favourites to win the fourth T20I and level the series.