South African cricket captain Faf du Plessis won the toss in the first of the three-match Twenty20 international series in Dharamsala on Friday and chose to bowl first, keeping the possibility of dew at the high-altitude venue in mind.
Indian limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he wanted to bowl first too, and praised debutant Karnataka medium-pacer Sreenath Aravind’s IPL performance, backing the debutant. India have left out legspinner Amit Mishra, offspinner Harbhajan Singh, allrounder Stuart Binny and batsman Ajinkya Rahane.
South Africa have left out allrounder Albie Morkel, legspinner Edie Leie and batsman Khaya Zondo. Quinton de Kock isn’t playing either, so Amla will open with AB de Villiers, who will also keep wickets.
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Aided by the return of Dhoni as the limited overs skipper, India will aim for a winning start against South Africa, who begin their 72-day long tour of India at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium (HPCA) on the back of a T20 loss against India A in their only warm-up match.
However, they will aim to put that poor performance behind them and look for a positive start to the hectic tour. The three-match T20 series is mostly seen as a preparation for the upcoming World Cup T20 in 2016 scheduled to be played in India.
Dhoni will be back into the side after a gap of three months and will aim to make the most of the preparations ahead of the next year’s tournament. Youngsters Axar Patel, Sreenath Aravind and Ambati Rayudu will be tested.
With India’s batting line-up comprising Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane being the strength, the Proteas’ bowlers need to be disciplined to dismantle them in conditions favouring the batsmen.
South Afica’s batsmen, such as the likes of Plessis, de Villiers, J.P. Duminy, de Kock, David Miller will aim to use their Indian Premier League (IPL) experience as much as possible in the three T20 matches. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir will come into play on the turning tracks and can turn out to be the visiting team’s best bet at taking wickets.
India, on the other hand, have a strong bowling line-up, with spin trio of Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Ravichandran Ashwin leading the lines, assisted by pacers Mohit Sharma and Sreenath Aravind.
With both teams looking strong on paper, one cracker of a contest can be expected.
India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Akshar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ambati Rayudu, Mohit Sharma, and Sreenath Aravind.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Marchant de Lange, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, and Kagiso Rabada.