With T20 World Cup in mind, India begin auditions for select spots

The Men in Blue are on a 12-match winning streak and they can create an all-time record of winning 13 T20I games in a row



India's (from left) Hardik Pandya, coach Rahul Dravid, batting coach Vikram Rathour and Rishabh Pant during a practice session in New Delhi on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. — AP
India's (from left) Hardik Pandya, coach Rahul Dravid, batting coach Vikram Rathour and Rishabh Pant during a practice session in New Delhi on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. — AP

By PTI

Published: Wed 8 Jun 2022, 11:47 PM

Zeroing in on a core group for the upcoming T20 World Cup will be India’s main endeavour as they audition a bunch of players, both old and new, in the five-match T20 International series against a strong South African side, starting on Thursday.

The Men in Blue are on a 12-match winning streak and come Thursday, they can create an all-time record of winning 13 T20I games in a row.

However for head coach Rahul Dravid, the primary aim over the next 10 days will be to narrow down on a core group of players going into the World Cup in October.

And he couldn’t have hoped for a better opposition than a gritty South African side which has seen its stock rise recently.

With likes of skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli rested for the series, and stand-in captain KL Rahul sidelined by a groin injury, wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant will lead the side in his place for the series.

India currently face a problem of plenty.

Shreyas Iyer, was terrific at No.3 against Sri Lanka in February, could hold on to the spot, in the absence of the injured Suryakumar Yadav.

But Deepak Hooda, who has been in fine form, could also be given a chance since his impressed batting in the same position for Lucknow Super Giants.

The mercurial Pant and comeback man Dinesh Karthik form an explosive middle order.

While Pant will be keen to rediscover his touch, it is to be seen if Karthik, who dazzled in the role of a finisher for RCB, can replicate his IPL form with the national side and stay in contention for a World Cup spot if given a chance.

If Hooda, Karthik and Venkatesh Iyer perform well, it would give the management an opportunity to play around with the line up during the World Cup. Hardik Pandya is likely to resume his duties as the finisher despite a splendid run batting at No.3 and 4 in the IPL.

South Africa have not lost a white-ball series in India since 2010. The Proteas have come with their best possible side. For the visitors, a rejuvenated David Miller with his pyrotechnics will hold the key along with the flamboyant Quinton de Kock and Aiden Makram.

In the bowling department, the onus will be on spin twins Tabrez Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj and the pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje.

The South African T20 side will be playing together for the first time since the World Cup last year and skipper Temba Bavuma said the Proteas will also be looking to identify players for specific roles for the Australia edition.

Teams (From):

India: Rishabh Pant (C) (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik.

South Africa: Temba Bavuma (C), Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Rassie van der Dussen, Marco Jansen.

MATCH STARTS: 5.30 pm UAE Time


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