Home SPORTS Match Preview – South Africa vs India, India in South Africa 2023/24,...

Match Preview – South Africa vs India, India in South Africa 2023/24, 3rd T20I

Big picture: India, SA and their T20 World Cup gains

And just like that, both teams best chance for T20 World Cup preparation on the international stage will come to an end, two days after it began. What’s been gleaned so far? Only as much as we could from 19.3 overs of India’s batting and 13.5 of South Africa’s, and which we can briefly summarise as this:

  • Suryakumar Yadav and his shots over the wicketkeeper are among the most entertaining things in T20 cricket.
  • Reeza Hendricks must open the batting for South Africa at the next T20 World Cup, irrespective of who his opening partner is.
  • Tabraiz Shamsi has matured into a T20 banker, and
  • Rinku Singh is winning the race as India’s finisher so far.

That’s not too bad for a series where the first match was washed out entirely and the second rain-affected.

It also means we’ve yet to see a full T20 game and the big hope is that the Wanderers delivers one. Even if it does, neither side is at full strength and South Africa have reduced their stocks even further by releasing Marco Jansen and Gerald Coetzee to play in the domestic four-day game in preparation for the Tests later in the tour and will field an inexperienced pace attack. India are also without a key player as Deepak Chahar has remained at home for personal reasons. Both sets of seamers struggled for consistency in damp conditions at St George’s Park and will want to get their disciplines right in the decider. They need look no further than Mohammed Siraj, whose lines were exemplary, as an example.

While the spinners were all impressive in Gqeberha, they are unlikely to find much assistance in Johannesburg and could end up being the main targets for batting line-ups that both have headline acts. Hendricks’ run of form sees him average 51.50 from his last 12 T20Is while Suryakumar and Rinku give India a powerful middle-order combination. All three of them might have the T20 World Cup in the back of their minds but India’s stand-in captain, for his part, isn’t saying so.

“Go out and enjoy yourself,” has been his message to his players and with Thursday being the eve of the public holiday South Africa have declared to celebrate the Springboks Rugby World Cup win, who would dare to argue?

Form guide

South Africa: WLLLL (last five matches, most recent first)
India: LWLWW

In the spotlight: Matthew Breetzke and Yashasvi Jaiswal

In a truncated chase on Tuesday night, Matthew Breetzke was off to a sparkling start with 16 off 7 balls and showed good energy at the crease – almost too good. He was hasty in turning for a second run with his opening partner Hendricks still to leave the non-striker’s end and was visibly furious with himself when he was run out, squandering an opportunity to anchor a chase. He has one more chance to make a solid case for a more regular role at the Wanderers, where he will open for the final time in international cricket this year. Breetzke is not part of the ODI squad.

In the other camp, Yashasvi Jaiswal’s immense talent was limited to three balls in the opening match but he will be eager to show more of what he can do. With a reputation for aggression made perfectly clear by an eye-popping strike rate – 161.57 from his 14 T20Is so far – Jaiswal’s next challenge is to test it in South African conditions. Although he won’t be facing South Africa’s first-choice attack, there will still be plenty of pace, bounce and movement on offer and how he counters could make for an interesting contest.

Team news: New faces for South Africa?

With Jansen and Coetzee out, South Africa may find place for one, or both, of Nandre Burger and Ottniel Baartman to debut. Burger may edge ahead as he offers extra pace. Donovan Ferreira could also find his way into the XI, as an extra allrounder.

South Africa (probable): 1 Reeza Hendricks, 2 Matthew Breetzke, 3 Aiden Markam (capt), 4 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 5 David Miller, 6 Tristan Stubbs, 7 Donovan Ferreira, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Lizaad Williams, 10 Ottniel Baartman/ Nandre Burger, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi

Given Chahar has not joined the squad in South Africa yet, if India want to make any changes, it’s likely to be in the batting and spin departments, rather than among the seamers. Ruturaj Gaikwad missed Tuesday’s match with illness and could come in for Shubman Gill if he has recovered. Kuldeep Yadav may make way for Ravi Bishnoi, even though conditions are unlikely to offer too much to either of them.

India (probable): 1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad/Shubman Gill, 3 Tilak Varma, 4 Suryakumar Yadav (capt), 5 Rinku Singh, 6 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Arshdeep Singh, 9 Kuldeep Yadav/Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Mukesh Kumar

Pitch and conditions: Clear(ish) skies and a great game in the offing

The news everyone wants to hear is that the drizzle has drifted away and they’re mostly in luck. Thursday’s forecast for Johannesburg is clear for the late afternoon with only a 25% chance of evening thunderstorms. That means the chances of a full match are pretty good and the prospect of entertainment, even better.

At altitude, expect the ball to reach the boundary quicker but with good pace and bounce, there should be plenty for the quicks as well.

Stats and trivia: Runs, runs and more runs

  • Hendricks is South Africa’s leading run-scorer in T20I cricket this year, with 108 runs more than his nearest competitor, Aiden Markram.
  • For India, Suryakumar leads the batting charts, and has 363 runs more than the next highest run-scorer Jaiswal. Suryakumar also broke into the all-time top 10 six-hitters’ list in T20Is after Tuesday match. He has 115 sixes to his name.
  • The Highveld has been spectacular for T20I run-scoring this year. In March, Centurion’s SuperSport Park hosted the game with the highest match aggregate – 517 – between South Africa and West Indies. And two days later, the Wanderers saw the 16th highest match aggregate of 433 reached in a thriller between the same two sides.


“Rob has made the environment a lot more relaxed. He has made the guys be themselves. We are human beings. He has let us have bad days. He has allowed our families in. A lot of the guys are husbands and fathers, so that’s important. That happiness that the guys have makes us play better.”
South Africa’s changeroom environment, led by white-ball coach Rob Walter, is contributing to their success, according to Tabraiz Shamsi

“For every series, I was preparing for the conditions. If you see, West Indies was a bit on the slower side, and if you see Ireland, [the pitches] were similar to South Africa wickets, it was a bit bouncy and seaming a bit. We were preparing according to the [conditions] and we are India. So, it has been a great experience and great learning.”
India batter Tilak Varma on the experience of playing in different conditions

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent for South Africa and women’s cricket

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