The five-match T20I series between India and South Africa has lived upto the expectations as the two teams head into the fifth and final game with everything to play for. The series decider fifth T20I will take place at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on June 19.
Having lost the first two matches of the series, India produced great performance under pressure to register two back to back dominant victories. The fourth match saw them defeat South Africa by a massive margin of 82 runs at Rajkot on Friday.
India didn’t have a great start as their top four struggled to get going on a tricky pitch were 96/4 at the end of 15 overs. What followed was a carnage from Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik. The duo smashed 73 runs in the last five overs to take the team to a good total of 169/6. Hardik scored 46 off 31 while Karthik registered his maiden T20I fifty, scoring 55 off 27.
Chasing the target, South Africa couldn’t get any momentum whatsoever. Captain Temba Bavuma had to retire hurt early while also losing wickets of Quinton de Kock and Dwaine Pretorius inside the powerplay.
Heinrich Klaasen fell to Yuzvendra Chahal for the second time in a row while Harshal Patel outsmarted David Miller yet again. Rassie van der Dussen scored run-a-ball 20 but after his dismissal, it was only a formality.
The visitors were eventually bowled out for 87 – their lowest ever score in T20 internationals. Avesh Khan recorded his best bowling figures in international cricket with 4 for 18 while Chahal picked 2 for 21.
Earlier in the series, the Proteas defeated India by seven wickets in the first game and by four wickets in the second. India bounced back to take the third game at Visakhapatnam by 48 runs. Levelling the series after losing all four tosses and being sent to bat first is an impressive feat from India.
Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya had an outstanding season in the IPL, where he scored 487 runs at an average of 44 and strike rate of 131 while also picking 8 wickets with the ball.
Hardik has carried that form into the ongoing series, scoring 31* off 12, 31* off 21 and 46 off 31 in three of the four innings. He remains a key player for India in the middle order.
One of the best spinners in T20 cricket, Yuzvendra Chahal has taken 74 wickets from 58 matches at an economy of 8.18 rpo. The leg-spinner was hammered by the visitors in first two games but has turned things around, snaring 3 for 20 and 2 for 21 in the last two T20Is.
Quinton de Kock hasn’t had a great series, missing two games due to an injury and failing in the other two. But he remains a key player for the Proteas, especially on a good batting surface of Bangalore. The left hand batter has good numbers in T20 internationals, with 1863 runs in 63 matches at an average of 34 and strike rate of 135, including 11 half centuries.
David Miller, one of the most destructive batters in the world, had a great IPL 2022, scoring 481 runs in 16 matches at an average of 69 and strike rate of 143. In international T20s, he has scored 377 runs since 2021 at 47 average and 150 strike rate. The left-hander hammered 64* off 31 in the series opener and South Africa will need a similar knock from him.
H2H: India have won 11 matches compared to eight by South Africa.
The Men in Blue have stuck to what they believe is the strongest XI available. The management has provided players spot security and Karthik spoke of it after his match-winning performance in the fourth game. Their batting unit comprises Hardik, Karthik, Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant. The bowling attack looks pretty strong with Harshal Patel, Khan, Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
South Africa, on the other hand, have had to chop and change due to injury and health reasons. They had de Kock back in the fourth game after recovering from hamstring injury but could miss Bavuma in this fixture. The middle order of Miller, van der Dussen and Klaasen needs to do heavy lifting for them. The bowling attack has struggled in the death overs and needs Anrich Nortje to step up.
Overall, not only do India have a better side but also have the momentum. India are favourites to win the fifth T20I on Sunday to clinch the series.