India vs South Africa, 2nd T20I: India Predicted Playing XI

India vs South Africa, 2nd T20I: India Predicted Playing XI

Only one among Pandey and Iyer will make it to the XI.

Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya
Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Rain and Team India seems to be the flavour of the year. From Manchester to Dharamsala, the inclement weather has followed them right through the season, much to the agony of both fans and all those involved. So, after what turned out to be a damp squib at the picturesque HPCA stadium, the caravan of South Africa tour of India moves to the PCA stadium in Mohali.

Both teams will be desperate to shrug off the ignominy of the abandonment of the previous encounter and will be looking to assert early ascendancy in what is now an effectively a 2-match shoot-out. So, what will be playing 11 of Team India? Will Pant bat at No.4? Will Rahul replace Shikhar or will Kohli persist with the southpaw? Also, what about Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey?

Here’s India’s predicted XI for the second T20I:

Openers (Rohit Sharma & Shikhar Dhawan)

Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

If it had been a One-Day fixture, the openers would have picked themselves and we would have just moved on talking about the rest of the spots of a jigsaw puzzle. If Virat Kohli is the soul of Indian batting in ODIs, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are its heartbeats. And, while Kohli and Rohit have that same aura about them in Twenty20, Shikhar Dhawan‘s form has left a lot to be desired.

Unlike ODI cricket, Dhawan’s career in the shortest format of the game has seen more lows than highs. The southpaw seemed to have finally shrugged the bogey as far as T20 cricket was concerned when he averaged 40.52 last year but with him averaging a measly 15.00 in seven games in 2019, it looks like as a mere exception in what has been a disappointing T20I career thus far.

 

With KL Rahul- with superior strike-rate and overall numbers in Twenty20 cricket- breathing down his neck, this could be a make-or-break series for Dhawan. Rohit Sharma, on the other hand, will be looking to build on the starts that he squandered in the West Indies and provide India with a blistering start at the top.

Middle-Order (Virat Kohli (C), Rishabh Pant (WK) & Manish Pandey)

Manish Pandey
Manish Pandey. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Ahh! The middle-order. It has been a saga that can put any Ekta Kapoor daily soap to shame. Virat Kohli bats at No.3 but who follows him at 4, 5 or 6? Shouldn’t Shreyas Iyer get consistent chances at No.4? Is Rishabh Pant batting at a position too high? Is he an ideal No.4? Does India have enough late-order ammunition to tee away on a flat deck?

These are the questions that have dominated the Indian white-ball cricket landscape in the past 12 months or so. In the West Indies, Virat Kohli made it clear that they are looking at Rishabh Pant as a long-term prospect at No.4, leaving Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer with one spot to fight for in the middle-order.

But, Pant’s shot-selection- an extended saga of brainwash- and Iyer’s exploits at No.5 in the ODI series has once again reignited the debate as to whether the duo should swap places, giving the team enough ammunition in the form of Pant, the Pandya brothers and Ravindra Jadeja. That is unlikely to happen for this game. Rishabh Pant will continue to bat at four and captain Kohli and coach Shastri will hope that the youngster will make amends.

This leaves us with the No.5 spot. Manish Pandey was given the opportunity in the T20I series against the West Indies and while he did not exactly set the stage on fire, his competitor Shreyas Iyer did just that in the ODI series that followed. Having said that, the Karnataka batsman might get a go for one more series.

All-Rounders (Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya & Ravindra Jadeja)

Krunal Pandya
Krunal Pandya. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The return of Hardik Pandya to the side will bolster India’s late middle-order. The all-rounder was rested for the West Indies series due to a back injury he’d picked during the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup. The Baroda all-rounder will serve as the third seamer and will also give India much-needed firepower with the bat at the death. Pandya has been in outstanding hitting form this year and he will hope to carry his Mumbai Indians form to Mohali as India look to take a decisive lead.

In a parallel world, you wouldn’t ever pick Jadeja and Krunal Pandya in the same playing 11, purely because of the sameness in the skillset that the duo brings to the table. But, such has been the form displayed by both of them in the past year or so, that it has become almost impossible to ignore either of them. While Krunal was the player of the series for his all-round show [32 runs, 3 wickets], Jadeja has been brilliant in all forms of the game.

Bowlers (Rahul Chahar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini)

India A's Deepak Chahar
Deepak Chahar. (Photo by David Davies/PA Wire)

Ahead of the series opener, Virat Kohli defended the decision of omitting Kuldeep and Chahal from the T20I set-up for the second successive occasion, referring to the duos inability to contribute with the bat. If that is the approach – and that’s a dangerous one- then we should see Washington Sundar play ahead of leggie Rahul Chahar in the side. Sundar bowled with control and precision during the powerplay overs in the West Indies. But the wrist-spinner could just pip Sundar with Jadeja and Krunal giving enough batting depth and even Deepak Chahar to come at nine.

Deepak Chahar, during his spell of 3-4 overs, in the last T20I against the West Indies made the ball talk, and how! The absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar gives another opportunity to the CSK seamer to assert his credentials as a potent swing bowler in T20I cricket. The other spot in the pace attack could be a toss-up between Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini. The latter gave a good account of his bowling abilities in the Caribbean, and with the pitch at Mohali ideally conducive to pace bowling, the RCB bowler might pip Ahmed in the pegging order.