India look to shrug off inconsistent run | The Daily Star
12:59 PM, October 05, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:14 PM, October 05, 2015

India v South Africa, 2nd T20I, Cuttack

India look to shrug off inconsistent run against South Africa

Big picture

The balloon often pops after a big build-up but that did not happen in the series opener between these two teams.

A competitive curtain raiser set the tone for what should continue to be a fiercely contested series, and if all the fixtures play out like the first one, fans are in for a fun two months.

Already, one side could scoop early honours with South Africa 40 overs away from a trophy. India will want to make sure they get to Kolkata with the possibility of claiming the series.

The hosts' major concern will be the way their batsmen slunk away after a strong start against a South Africa attack that did not seem to get a measure of the conditions. Their bowlers did not find the going easier either, and may want to consider both tactical and team changes.

The visitors are likely still basking in satisfaction over the way they coped with pressure, especially as it was some of their lesser lights who shone in Dharamsala.

A firmer middle order and a more determined grip on key moments mean South Africa are shaping up well as they prepare for the World T20.

Consistency will also be on India's mind - they have lost four of their last five T20s and will want to turn the tide on what could become a real problem ahead of the challenges in the next two months.

Form guide

(last five completed games, most recent first)

India LLWLL
South Africa WLWWW

In the spotlight

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis had hailed R Ashwin as the best spin bowler in the world and after Friday few can argue with that assessment.

Ashwin was the only bowler to concede less than seven runs an over and the only one to demonstrate real guile. He was particularly astute in removing AB de Villiers, who he drew forward and then deceived with a change of pace.

India's spinner will want to have similarly smart plans for the rest of the South Africa line-up in the second game.

David Miller did not have the opportunity to do anything in the first match and that may be exactly what will worry him as the series draws on.

Farhaan Behardien was promoted ahead of him to see South Africa through a tricky period and he ended up providing the perfect foil to JP Duminy, who finished the game in the way Miller may have wanted to do.

Miller has not scored an international fifty in fifteen innings and although chances don't come often in the middle order, he is at risk of being crowded out and will want to stake a proper claim soon.

Team news

India are unlikely to fiddle with their batting department. They may consider playing another spinner though - they have Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh - instead of one of their seamers.

India (probable) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Ambati Rayudu, 7 Axar Patel/Stuart Binny, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohit Sharma, 11 S Aravind/Harbhajan Singh

The success of the de Villiers-Hashim Amla opening combination could mean more time on the bench for Quinton de Kock, especially as the rest of South Africa's top order looks settled.

They may consider making a change to the allrounder's spot, bringing in Albie Morkel for Chris Morris, who struggled in Dharamsala, but other changes are unlikely unless South Africa opt to play both specialist spinners.

South Africa (probable) 1 AB de Villiers (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis (capt), 4 JP Duminy, 5 David Miller, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Chris Morris/Albie Morkel, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Kyle Abbott, 10 Marchant de Lange/Eddie Leie, 11 Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

Bounce and carry is possibly a thing of the past as South Africa inch into the cauldron of spin that India will likely stir throughout the series.

A slow pitch will not be the main concern for either team though. The pitch and square were under cover from the persistent rain on Saturday and the met office predicted more rain over the following 48 hours.

All the tickets for the fixture have been sold out.

Stats and trivia

This will be the first T20 international played in Cuttack. It has hosted two Tests and 17 ODIs, none featuring South Africa

JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien's unbeaten 105-run stand on Friday equalled the highest fourth-wicket partnership in T20Is in 2015, between Shakib Al Hasan and Sabbir Rahman against Pakistan in Mirpur

Quotes

"We have to play to the South African weakness. We know they are not so good against spinners. We have got some learning done against their batters."
Rohit Sharma

"We are not as high up from an altitude point so the ball won't travel as far. We may have to run a lot more ones and twos. From a bowler's view we may need to protect certain pockets of the field because of the bigger dimensions. It is a lot warmer here so we will have to be smart with the way we manage our energy."
Farhaan Behardien

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