India and South Africa look to finalise T20 plans ahead of World Cup

Three-match series starts in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday with less than a month to go for global event

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India and South Africa will have little time to find the final parts of their T20 jigsaw puzzle when the three-match T20 series begins in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

The T20 World Cup in Australia begins on October 16, with the main leg of the tournament starting on October 22. This is the only T20 match for both sides before the main event.

With next to no room for experimentation, both teams will be looking to play their best available XI and build-up some winning momentum.

This will be the second T20 series in India between the two nations in three months. Their five-match T20 clash in June ended at 2-2 after the final match in Bengaluru got washed out.

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma expects his team to put up a similar fight.

“Last time we were here, we were tested, we were challenged in all departments of our game and I think we answered it quite well,” Bavuma said. “I expect a good, strong, competitive series.”

Bavuma returns to the team that won the T20 series 2-1 in England after a three-month injury lay-off. He could force out a more in-form batsman like Rilee Rossouw despite a less than ideal 20-over record.

For India, this will be final chance to plug the holes in their bowling. Rohit Sharma's team are fresh from a series win over world champions Australia, but it was their batting which bailed them out.

Left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh returns to the team, but batsman Deepak Hooda is injured while seamer Mohammed Shami still has not recovered from Covid-19. Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya is undergoing conditioning at the National Cricket Academy, along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with an eye on the World Cup.

India will be hoping pace ace Jasprit Bumrah and Singh provide some much-needed precision with the new ball and at the death.

“There is a visible shift in the way we are batting. The approach has changed. We are being more aggressive,” said batting coach Vikram Rathour.

“We are playing with better strike rates and more intent and that is evident since the last World Cup. We are looking to get better at defending targets … I won't be too harsh on my bowlers because they have been able to push the match till the last over every time when we are looking to defend.”

India and South Africa will also play three one-day internationals from October 6 to 11.

Updated: September 27, 2022, 4:06 PM
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