As India’s top-order prepares for its hardest test in challenging conditions against a top-notch South African team in the T20 World Cup on Sunday, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are set to spit fire on a surface that will give sharp bounce. The game will very certainly determine the Group 2 winner and the location of India’s potential semi-final. The WACA has been the customary location for many decades, but today the international games are held at Optus Stadium, a freshly built concrete jungle.
While it seems to be any other contemporary cricket stadium bereft of the WACA’s old world charm, what it has with both stadiums is the spicy character of its track and the good bounce on offer, which might make hitters’ lives tough. Rabada and Nortje, two of the world’s most feared pace merchants, are anticipated to give some difficult questions to Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, and Suryakumar Yadav against this backdrop.
While Rabada will bowl full and get the bowl to seam and swing at 145 clicks, Nortje will mix it up with back of length or hard lengths at 150+ speed. Both Rohit and Virat are fantastic horizontal bat players, and the Powerplay overs will be all about how well the top-hand-eye order’s coordination works. The added speed off the track will give hitters a half second less time to react, and it will be intriguing to observe how the Indian batters tackle the situation. Will they attack from the outset, as has been the case in this T20 World Cup?
Will Rahul in Playing XI Against SA?
While left-handed Rishabh Pant’s adventurous stroke-play would have been an excellent foil for Rohit at the top of the order, it is thought that head coach Rahul Dravid does not want to go past an out-of-form Rahul for the time being. The second option for Pant is to remove Dinesh Karthik, whose fielding in the two matches has been subpar. The Netherlands encounter does not offer a sufficient indication of how well the Indian team is prepared for the Proteas Test. The last series between the two teams was played on low bounce Indian belters, which made hitting through the line and plonking one’s front foot meat and drink for hitters.
In terms of South Africa’s bowling lineup, it will not be shocking if they drop left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and replace him with either Marco Jansen or Lungi Ngidi. The Indian squad had already defeated Shamsi handily, and two spinners at the Optus may be a luxury unless they are seeking to accelerate over-rate. It is not advisable to change the winning combination, but with three in-form left-handers in South Africa’s top six in Quinton de Kock, Rilee Rossouw, and David Miller, Axar Patel’s previous match-ups will undoubtedly be discussed. Axar’s economy rate against left-handers is near to 9 runs per over, and with Ravichandran Ashwin in the playing XI, it is much higher.