Bengaluru: After eight days and four matches, the T20I series between India and South Africa is all set for a winner-takes-it-all decider at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.
With head coach Rahul Dravid’s mantra of consistency in the playing XI, giving players time and making them feel settled in their positions, India have now started to benefit from it.
After losing in New Delhi and Cuttack, the Rishabh Pant-led side resisted the temptation of making any changes to the eleven and with better execution of plans, registered victories by 47 runs and by 82 runs in Visakhapatnam and Rajkot, respectively.
The hosts will take a lot of heart from the fact that their bowling attack is finding its groove. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and pacer Harshal Patel shone in Visakhapatnam with three and four wickets respectively while in Rajkot, it was Avesh Khan’s turn to get into the wickets column as the Proteas were bowled out for 87.
On the batting front, Ishan Kishan has been impactful with the bat in the series while Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya were impressive at the back-end in Rajkot. Ruturaj Gaikwad, despite a fifty in Visakhapatnam, would like to get some big runs, so as Shreyas Iyer.
After a useful cameo in New Delhi, captain Pant has failed to bring out the fireworks which he can produce and has fallen to wide of off-stump trap all the time in the series.
Though his bowling changes and captaincy picks have been nice, Pant the batter coming to his best batting self in the venue where he made his T20I debut in 2017 will fill the last missing piece in India’s batting puzzle.
For South Africa, who quickly took a 2-0 lead in the series, being comprehensively outplayed in the last two matches will cause them concerns ahead of the Bengaluru decider.
With doubts over Temba Bavuma’s availability due to left elbow injury causing him to retire hurt in Rajkot, the visitors will be fretting over whether Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell have recovered from their injuries to play in Bengaluru.
The top order, despite Quinton de Kock’s return in Rajkot after recovering from wrist injury, has been shaky while the middle order hasn’t been able to carry the workload after being chief architects of victories in first two matches.
While the Proteas would want to seal another series win in India, the hosts have successfully demonstrated enough firepower in their bounceback abilities and, who knows, after taking the series to a decider, they might even win it. The stage is set for an enthralling finale to an exciting series between India and South Africa.
Catch the match
India vs South Africa
Fifth T20 International, Bengaluru
Start: 5.30 pm UAE