INDORE: Just a few hours after recording their maiden T20I series win at home against South Africa in Guwahati, India will look to achieve their first-ever clean sweep against the Proteas in the inconsequential third and final T20I at the Holkar Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.
A 3-0 result here, following up on the 2-1 series win over Australia, should help India pack some confidence when they board the flight for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia. The blazing form of the Men in Blue’s top four, particularly the unstoppable Suryakumar Yadav, must be the most heartening feature of the recent ‘home run’.
Yadav’s scorching blade seems to be getting more and more marauding with every game, as was evident in his destructive 22-ball 62 on Sunday in Guwahati, which helped India eke out a series-deciding 16-run win. So impactful and pleasing was the ‘SKY’ show that even KL Rahul, who was named Man of the Match, expressed surprise at Surya not being given the award instead.
Surya’s powerful knock helped him gallop to 1,000 career runs in the 32 T20Is that he’s played so far. He’s the third fastest Indian to breach the ‘1k’ mark after Virat Kohli and Rahul. In 2022, the Mumbaikar’s numbers are insane: 22 innings, 793 runs at a strike rate of 185.28, in a tally which includes 68 sixes and 50 fours. Post the 32-year-old Guwahati ‘special,’ India skipper Rohit Sharma even joked that he would rather not play ‘SKY’ till India’s World Cup opener against Pakistan on October 23!
How can @surya_14kumar’s dazzling form be retained? 🤔🗣️ 🗣️ Here’s what #TeamIndia captain @ImRo45 said. #INDvSA https://t.co/Gkbaej2dHc
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1664735540000
The team management, has however, decided to give Kohli and Rahul a break for the final T20I. Shreyas is expected to replace Kohli but with no specialist batter in the squad, it’s likely that either Umesh Yadav or Mohammad Siraj will get a game here.
Death overs a constant worry
Even as Yadav’s cracking form will give Rohit plenty of good sleep on the long flight to Australia, what would also leave him uneasy is the struggle of two of his main medium-pacers when confronted with a flat track, especially in the last five overs. While the poor death overs form of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is likely to be India’s leading seamer after Jasprit Bumrah was on Monday ruled out of the T20 World Cup due to a back injury, is already a huge concern, an ordinary show in the slog overs by Harshal Patel and Arshdeep Singh, who between them conceded 107 in 8 overs in the second T20I, is worrying too.
In both the games of this series so far, Arshdeep provided a dream start to India, getting three wickets in the first over in the first T20I and followed it up with two in the second.
However, while the left-arm seamer conceded 17 in his final over – the 19th of the innings-in the first T20I, he was all over the place in the second match, getting tonked for 57 runs in his last three overs, including 26 in the 19th over at Guwahati. Overall, Arshdeep went for 62 in his 4 overs.
Returning from an injury, Harshal managed to take just one wicket in three T20Is against the Aussies while being thumped for 99 runs in 8 overs, though he has been slightly better against SA. A bright spot here is the promising return of pace bowling allrounder Deepak Chahar, but then Chahar, like Bhuvneshwar, is more about making breakthroughs in the Powerplay overs.
South Africa will be itching to salvage some pride here. The Proteas’ plight is best highlighted by the pathetic show of their captain Temba Bavuma, who is yet to get off the mark in this series after being out for successive ducks. The visitors will feel better after Miller’s magnificent century – an unbeaten 107 off merely 47 balls at Guwahati, but they need Quinton de Kock back to his best. With SA chasing 238, de Kock scratched his way back into some form in an unbeaten 48-ball 69, but the African side would love to have the left-hander to be at his free-flowing best before the T20 World Cup.