Indian team management rests Virat Kohli and KL Rahul
India have already wrapped up the three-game T20I series against South Africa, taking an unassailable 2-0 lead. But the match in Indore on Tuesday will prove to be a tough test for their bowlers ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Having sealed their first-ever series against South Africa at home, Indian team management has decided to rest Virat Kohli and vice-captain KL Rahul for the final game.
“Yes, both Virat and Rahul have been rested from the final T20I,” said a BCCI official. After the final game against South Africa, Kohli and Rahul will join the squad in Mumbai from where they are scheduled to leave for Australia on Thursday for the T20 World Cup.
It is expected that standby batter Shreyas Iyer will replace Kohli for the final game in the playing XI. With Rahul also rested, either Suryakumar Yadav or Rishabh Pant will open alongside Rohit Sharma.
With no second reserve batter in the squad, Shahbaz Ahmed or Mohammed Siraj or Umesh Yadav could get a look-in.
Since their early exit from the T20 World Cup almost 12 months back, the Indian batting has come a long way and looks formidable ahead of the next edition beginning later this month.
Majority of the batters remain the same from the UAE edition but it is the drastic change in approach which has made the difference.
Heading into the ICC event, India’s high-profile top-three have hit top form, including Rahul, who allayed concerns about his strike rate with a sublime effort on Sunday.
Kohli has a 140-plus strike rate since the Asia Cup that includes three 50s and a much-awaited hundred. Skipper Rohit has come up with impactful innings over the course of the six games at home against Australia and South Africa.
Suryakumar Yadav is in a league of his own and seems to be batting at a much higher level than his teammates and Rohit is contemplating playing him in the team’s World Cup opener against Pakistan on October 23.
Pant is yet to bat in the series and though Dinesh Karthik got seven balls in the second T20, he too would be hoping to get a hit in the middle. Jasprit Bumrah’s absence will compound India’s bowling woes, especially in the death overs.
Deepak Chahar, who is among World Cup reserves, has been impressive with the new ball but question marks remain over his efficacy towards the back end of the innings. Arshdeep Singh has made an impact both with new and old ball, but was unusually expensive on Sunday. Having bowled as many as three no balls, it was a forgettable night for the left-arm pacer who would be eager to bounce back.
The variations that Harshal Patel relies on to keep the batters in check have not been producing the desired results since his return from injury.
Ravichandrand Ashwin is yet to get a wicket in the series and India will be looking to him for wickets in the middle overs.
Drafted into the squad in Bumrah’s absence, Siraj could also get to play at Holkar Stadium but India might continue with the out-of-rhythm Harshal as he would need more game time post injury to shape up.
In the extreme humidity of Guwahati, the South Africa pacers struggled to grip the ball and ended up offering far many full tosses to the Indian batters. They would want to rectify that.
Despite the series loss, there has been plenty of positives for the visitors in the batting department. Continuing his menacing form this year, David Miller smashed an unbeaten hundred while Quinton de Kock got much needed runs before the World Cup.
The biggest concern for the Proteas is the form of their skipper Temba Bavuma, who is yet to score a run in the series.
■ India vs South Africa, 3rd T20I, 7pm, live on Star Sports Network