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India vs South Africa T20 Series Preview – 3 Players With A Point To Prove

Bhuvneshwar Kumar
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India’s build-up to the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup in Australia starts with a five-match T20I series against South Africa at home. Following the rigorous two-month IPL schedule, team India have rested senior players such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah for this series, affording some players on the fringes of the set-up to get an opportunity to stake a claim for World Cup selection.

The Indian cricket team has selected a young squad led by KL Rahul for this series, and here are three players with a point to prove in the upcoming T20 clash against South Africa.

1. Hardik Pandya


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After a tumultuous two years plagued by injuries, IPL 2022 saw Hardik Pandya complete his redemption arc, with the all-rounder returning to full fitness and leading the Gujarat Titans to their maiden Indian Premier League title in their maiden season in the competition. Owing to injury troubles and a lack of bowling fitness, Pandya has been in and out of the India white-ball squads for the past two years. However, following his excellent performances in the IPL, the Gujarat captain has a chance to cement his position as a fixture in India’s first-choice XI against South Africa.

Pandya had a phenomenal IPL in 2022, scoring 487 runs at an average of 44 from number four while also picking up eight wickets and winning the man of the match award in the final. However, for India, Pandya will have to reprise his role as a finisher at number six, tasked with the job of going after the pacers at the death along with bowling two overs through the middle as a sixth option.

Although Pandya can perform this role, he hasn’t been able to showcase his skills in India colours since 2019, and the five matches against South Africa will go a long way in showing that the Men in Blue can rely on him during the World Cup.

2. Dinesh Karthik


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Dinesh Karthik’s superlative performances in IPL 2022 for the Royal Challengers Bangalore earned him a spot in India’s 18-man squad for the T20I series against South Africa. Karthik hasn’t played for India since the heart-breaking 2019 World Cup semi-final defeat against New Zealand, but following his resurgence in IPL colours, the veteran wicket-keeper batter has regained a place in the national team.

As a finisher, Karthik’s numbers are up there with the best players in the world since 2018. Karthik scored at the fastest rate amongst those who faced a minimum of 100 deliveries in IPL 2022 and also has an incredible strike rate of 197 in the last four overs of an IPL innings since 2018. Very few batters can match Karthik’s ability to take on the pacers at the back end of an innings, and the wicket-keeper is one of the few genuine 360-degree players in the Indian cricket team.

Although the competition for places in the Indian team is immense, Karthik could stake a claim for his spot in the 2022 T20 World Cup by translating his incredible IPL 2022 form into national colours. 

3. Bhuvneshwar Kumar


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Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a fixture in India’s T20I set-up for the last five years, averaging 24.8 at an economy of just 7.09 since 2018. However, despite his excellent record for the Men in Blue, the emergence of exciting youngsters such as Mohsin Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel and Umran Malik has put the SRH pacer’s place in the India squad for the World Cup under threat. Although Kumar is India’s most experienced T20 seamer, his lack of pace and ability to bowl the hard lengths could see his impact on the team wane on the bouncy pitches in Australia.

With Jasprit Bumrah rested for this series, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be the lead bowler against South Africa and the pacer can seal his spot in India’s World Cup Squad by continuing his excellent performances for the Men in Blue.


[Featured Image Credit: ANI]