New Delhi : A strong South African T20 squad with a judicious blend of youth and experience will open their campaign in a 72-day long tour, when they take on a talented bunch of India A youngsters in a T20 warm-up game today.
For the Proteas, under their leader of shortest format Faf du Plessis, the game against the Mandeep Singh-led India A side will be more about getting into the match simulation mode before they get going against MS Dhoni’s team in the opening T20 International at Dharamsala on October 2.
The South African T20 squad has five senior cricketers — skipper Du Plessis, Test captain Hashim Amla, ODI captain AB de Villiers, leg-spinner Imran Tahir, senior batsman JP Duminy, who would feature across all three formats.
Along with David Miller and Quinton de Kock, the South African T20 squad’s batting unit bears a formidable look.
With the Airforce Ground in Palam, not being a very big one, one would expect some lusty blows from De Villiers, Du Plessis and Miller.
Even the bowling unit sans Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel has a specialist T20 feel to it. In any case Steyn and Morkel have not been their prime T20 performers and will join the squad during the ODI series.
The likes of Albie Morkel, Chris Morris, Tahir and Kyle Abbott have all been proven T20 performers with their variations in the shorter format having plied their trade in Indian Premier League.
Their opponents — known as India A as the BCCI media release terms it or India Presidents’ XI as a popular cricket website calls it, is more of an India ‘C’ side than being the second string side.
The proper India ‘A’ team is currently playing a three-day match against Bangladesh A in Bengaluru.
The side that will take on the South Africans comprises of young IPL performers over the past couple of years.
As of now, none of these players are really close to senior India team whose core looks set but with the ICC World T20 in another five months, a good performance can obviously make a difference.
Especially, the three spinners Yuzvendra Chahal, Pawan Negi and Kuldeep Yadav would fancy their chances ahead of the World T20, as none of the spinners save Ravichandran Ashwin is assured of his place in the T20 format.
Among the batsmen Mayank Agarwal has had some success for the India A in the list A matches in recent times. Manan Vohra would like to do justice to his talent as he must consider himself lucky to get into the side despite not having a single 40 plus score in the last 10 T20 matches that he had played in IPL and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson will also like to remain in the fray and runs against quality T20 bowlers like Morris, Morkel and Abbott will give them a lot of confidence.