Test captain Dean Elgar hinted that the players who chose to go the IPL instead of staying at home for the Bangladesh Tests should not expect the doors to be thrown back open but that’s exactly what happened. All of them – except Faf du Plessis and Dewald Brevis – have been included in this squad, which is headlined by a first-choice pace pack. Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen and fit-again Anrich Nortje are all available, while allrounders Dwaine Pretorius and Wayne Parnell take South Africa’s seam options to six.
Players can move in and out of hotels and stadia, and matches will be played at five different venues around the country, with full attendance allowed. More than 100,000 people turned out to watch the IPL final, and there’s an appetite for gathering once more so for both teams, this could be the series that not only marks the start of World Cup preparations but also the start of things going back to the normal.
IndiaWWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa WWWWL
In the spotlight
India: (possible) 1. Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Ishan Kishan, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt & wk), 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Deepak Hooda/Dinesh Karthik, 7 Harshal Patel, 8 Bhuveshwar Kumar, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Ravi Bishnoi/Axar Patel, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
South Africa are likely to retain the top four through most of the 2021 T20 World Cup, which means there could only be room for two out of van der Dussen, Miller, Heinrich Klaasen and Stubbs. Pretorius is the preferred allrounder, over Parnell, but South Africa could still have a left-arm pace option in Jansen. Nortje’s return means South Africa may find themselves choosing between Jansen and Lungi Ngidi for the third seamer spot and both may miss out if they opt for two spinners.
South Africa: (possible) 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Reeza Hendricks 3 Temba Bavuma, 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Rassie van der Dussen/Tristan Stubbs 6 David Miller, 7 Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Anrich Nortje, 10 Marco Jansen/Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Pitch and conditions
Stats and trivia
- India have won 12 consecutive T20Is, a joint-record with Afghanistan and Romania and have only lost one of the last 10 bilateral T20I series they’ve played in – to Sri Lanka in July last year. Since December 2019, they’ve beaten West Indies (twice), Sri Lanka (twice), New Zealand (twice), Australia and England.
- South Africa have played two T20I series in India, and did not lose either. They swept the 2015 series 2-0 and drew the 2019 series 1-1.
- Rabada needs one wicket to reach fifty in T20Is. He will be the fourth South African to reach the milestone after Imran Tahir, Dale Steyn and Shamsi.
“Honestly, we haven’t thought about the record, we are not really paying attention to it. It’s nice to win games. But we are not worried about creating records or creating numbers. We want to win and want to try and win every game that we play. So we want to prepare well, we want to practise well, we want to get to the ground with our tactics right and sorted, and try and execute on the day. If it happens, that’s great.”
India have not placed special emphasis on the possibility of a record 13th successive T20I victory, according to coach Rahul Dravid
“We expected it to be hot, obviously not this hot. We are fortunate that the games are being played at night. At night, it is bearable. But during the day, guys are trying to look after themselves as much as possible. Drink a lot more water and the normal beer that the guys drink at home. And just keep as mentally fresh as they can.”
Hydration tips to beat the heat courtesy of Temba Bavuma
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent