Under-performing spinners, an out-of-form opener and his own poor show — skipper Rishabh Pant will have a lot on his mind when India take on a buoyant South Africa in the third T20 on Tuesday in their bid to keep the five-match series alive.
The hosts came into the series on a 12-match winning streak but South Africa took the wind out of India’s sails with two emphatic victories.
Pant’s side is now struggling on multiple fronts and it would take a herculean effort to plug all the holes with just one day between the second and third game.
If bowling let India down in the first game, a poor batting show cost them the second match and now they have their backs to the wall.
India’s batting left a lot to be desired with the openers failing to give the team a good start in the powerplay.
Shoehorned into captaincy, Pant (29, 5) has not fired himself so far. He has only three fifties in 45 T20Is with an average of 23.9 and strike-rate of 126.6.
As someone, who is touted as a future leader, Pant has not inspired enough confidence with his leadership abilities.
Going into the World Cup in Australia later this year, a lot will be expected from the wicketkeeper batter, who can win matches single-handedly and he will look to produce an inspired show on Tuesday.
In bowling, the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel have been a big letdown as they went for 75 and 59 in six and five overs in the two matches and the axe is likely to fall on one of them going into the third game.
The hosts, save Bhuvneshwar Kumar, have looked bereft of ideas of getting breakthroughs as India picked just four wickets in the opening game and six in the second match with the leading seamer from Meerut doing most of the damage.
India’s think-tank might also look to unleash the express pace of Umran Malik on South Africa or get Arshdeep Singh in place of Avesh Khan, who is yet to take a wicket in the series.
South Africa, on the other hand, have looked like a well-oiled machine with both their bowlers and batters working in partnerships.
If Miller and van der Dussen took it away with a stellar show in the first T20, comeback man Klassen proved to be the difference on Sunday with his fluent 81-run innings on a tricky wicket.
Skipper Temba Bavuma also played the perfect foil to Klassen to script SA’s recovery.
In bowling, the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Wayne Parnell have hunted in a pack.
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