IND vs SA: The IPL fever is over and now it is time for the international action as India are all set to take on South Africa in the first T20I of the five-match series on the 9th of June at the Arun Jaitely Stadium, New Delhi.
India announced an 18-men squad for the series led by the opening batter KL Rahul. The selectors provided the seniors like the regular skipper Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah with a much-needed rest. Meanwhile, the likes of Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik made a comeback to the Indian side after a solid showing in the IPL 2022.
The selectors also called some youngsters, including Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik for the first time in their respective careers. Here we will talk about India’s predicted playing XI for the first T20I in the IND vs SA series.
OPENERS: KL Rahul and Ruturaj Gaikwad
KL Rahul is by far the best Indian T20I batter. The stylish lad from Karnataka is coming off another successful IPL with the bat as he finished 2nd in the race of Orange Cap. KL Rahul scored 616 runs in 15 matches for LSG, including two centuries. He is likely to open for India in the first T20I.
Ruturaj Gaikwad could get a nod ahead of Ishan Kishan for the 2nd opening slot. The last season’s Orange Cap winner in the IPL failed to carry the momentum this season. He also didn’t get many chances in the international arena owing to a wrist injury. However, the right-handed batter picked up some form towards the end of the IPL 2022 and he could be KL Rahul’s opener in the first T20I of the IND vs SA series.
MIDDLE-ORDER: Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, and Dinesh Karthik
Shreyas Iyer is likely to take the number three spot. The right-handed batter was in a prime form in the T20I series against Sri Lanka, where he scored three consecutive fifties to emerge as the man of the series. Shreyas Iyer had a decent season with the bat in the IPL 2022 and he is likely to continue on number three in Virat Kohli’s absence.
Rishabh Pant is expected to bat at number three to add a variety to the Indian batting line-up. The left-handed southpaw wasn’t consistent in the IPL 2022 but he remained attacking throughout. Pant scored 340 runs in 14 matches in the IPL 2022 at a strike rate of over 151.
Dinesh Karthik is likely to bat at number six and take up the role of the finisher in the first T20I of the IND vs SA series. The veteran wicketkeeper-batter took up the role of the finisher for RCB in the IPL 2022, where he amassed 330 runs in 16 matches at a strike rate of 183.33.
ALL-ROUNDERS: Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel
Hardik Pandya is back for India for the first time since the last T20 World Cup. The all-rounder led Gujarat Titans to the IPL title in their debut season. The explosive all-rounder was pivotal with the bat and scored 487 runs in 15 matches at an average of over 44. Pandya is likely to bat at the number five for India in the first T20I of IND vs SA T20I series.
Axar Patel is likely to take the spin all-rounder’s slot on the Indian side in Ravindra Jadeja’s absence. The left-arm orthodox spinner didn’t have a successful IPL season but his numbers speak for him in the T20 format.
BOWLERS: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Avesh Khan/Umran Malik
Bhuvneshwar Kumar will lead the Indian bowling attack in the first T20I as the pacer’s form is key for India going ahead. Bhuvi looked in a good touch for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL 2022. While there are not many wickets in his account, his economy rate remained impressive throughout.
Yuzvendra Chahal has roared back to the Indian side after winning the Purple Cap in the IPL 2022. Yuzi accounted for 27 wickets in 17 matches for Rajasthan Royals at an average of 19.51. The senior bowler will strengthen the Indian bowling attack massively with his experience.
Harshal Patel will take care of the death bowling duties in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah in the first T20I of the IND vs SA series. The right-handed willy bowler has been consistent in the national colours since his debut for India and has 11 wickets against his name in 8 T20Is.
For the last slot in the Indian playing XI, the team management is likely to go ahead with Avesh Khan, who had another decent IPL and he also had bowled decently in two T20Is he played for India. However, India might opt for the express pace of Umran Malik who made headlines during the IPL 2022 courtesy of his sensational pace.