Following the conclusion of the Indian Premier League, the
focus shifts to the international cricket calendar as India’s preparations for
the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia begin with their five-match T20I series
against South Africa at home.
India will be without their captain Rohit Sharma and
all-format stars Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah for this series, with KL Rahul
leading the young side in his stead. With three of their top stars rested, this
series is an excellent opportunity for the Men in Blue to give players on the
fringes of the squad an opportunity to display their skills. After their
success in IPL 2022, India have recalled Dinesh Karthik to their white-ball
setup for the first time since the 2019 ODI World Cup while also handing maiden
call-ups to pacers Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik.
South Africa, meanwhile, will be playing their first T20I
since the 2021 T20 World Cup and have named a full-strength squad for this
series. The Proteas welcome the return of Heinrich Klaasen and Wayne Parnell to
their T20I squad, and plenty of their key players – Quinton de Kock, Aiden
Markram, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada – will be familiar with the conditions in
this series, having just spent the last two months in India for the IPL.
With both teams having failed to make the semi-finals of
the previous World Cup in the UAE, these five matches will be incredibly important
to help them test out different players and combinations to find
their best XI ahead of the opening game in October.
Players to watch out for
David Miller has enjoyed an incredible resurgence in the shortest
format in recent times, and the left-hander has been one of the best middle
order batters in the T20 circuit since the last two years. The South African averaged
over 47 at a strike rate of 149 in T20I cricket in 2021 and was also one of the
pillars of the Gujarat Titans title-winning side in the IPL, scoring 480 runs
at a strike rate of 142.
Hardik Pandya returns to the India squad for the first time
since the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE against South Africa, and the
all-rounder will play a key role in balancing the side as the sixth bowling
option. After being plagued by injuries for the past two years, Pandya staged an
incredible comeback in IPL 2022 as he led the Gujarat Titans to their maiden
title, and the all-rounder will look to translate that form into national
colours in this series to cement his spot in India’s World Cup squad.