IND vs SA: Five Player battles to watch out for in the series
India in action against South Africa [PC: Twitter]
After registering a clinical series victory against the mighty Aussies, India are gearing up for the three-match T20I series against South Africa, starting Wednesday.
The series holds significant importance for both teams, as it will lead to their final preparations ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia. Both sides look incredibly strong on paper, having numerous T20 superstars in their lineups.
With three mouth-watering face-offs awaiting us, let's analyse the on-field player battles which could decide the outcome of the series.
Virat Kohli vs Kagiso Rabada
Rabada has dismissed Kohli several times in T20s [PC: Twitter]
The battle between Virat Kohli and Kagiso Rabada has been among the underrated player rivalries of this generation. We often keep tracking the contests between Kohli-Cummins and Kohli-Anderson, while it's Rabada who has troubled the Indian batting maestro a considerable number of times.
Statistically, Virat Kohli averages only 9.75 (39 runs, four dismissals) against the Proteas spearhead in the shortest format. As they will be up against each other in a T20I for the first time since 2019, it will be interesting to see if Kohli improves his numbers against Rabada in this series.
Quinton de Kock vs Yuzvendra Chahal
Chahal after dismissing De Kock in an ODI [PC: Twitter]
Generally, left-handed batters are considered effective counters for right-arm leg spinners. However, it has been the opposite in the battle between Quinton de Kock and Yuzvendra Chahal.
De Kock, a monster against pacers, averages only nine (54 runs, six dismissals) against Chahal, striking at a miserable rate of 122.72. These stats suggest how the wily leg spinner has troubled the Proteas southpaw repeatedly; therefore, it won't be a gamble if Rohit Sharma introduces Chahal to get rid of De Kock in the earlier phase of the innings.
Rohit Sharma vs Anrich Nortje
Nortje has dismissed Rohit twice in the IPL [PC: Twitter]
This battle will be my personal favourite amongst the mentioned ones. With all his intent, Rohit Sharma will come out with all guns blazing to ensure a quick start for India, while Anrich Nortje will aim to get his wicket through his rollicking pace and bounce.
Although Nortje hasn't dismissed Rohit in T20Is, he has the upper hand in the IPL (20 runs, two dismissals, SR: 117.6).
Aiden Markram vs Axar Patel
Axar Patel is in sublime form [PC: Twitter]
Aiden Markram has never ever come across Axar Patel in his career. However, the thing that makes this battle worth a mention is his overall record against slow left-arm spinners (SLAs) in the shortest format.
Notably, Markram averages only 16.16 (97 runs, six dismissals) and strikes at an ordinary rate of 121.25 against the SLAs in the middle overs (7-15) in his T20 career.
As Markram will bat in the middle order and Axar will operate in the 7-15 overs phase, the face-off between these two will be fascinating. Also, the kind of form Axar is in, he can make life tough for the stylish batter on any surface.
KL Rahul vs Lungi Ngidi
Ngidi has always troubled Rahul [PC: Twitter]
Interestingly, KL Rahul, India's first-choice opener, has recorded poor numbers against Lungi Ngidi across formats.
Statistically, the swashbuckling batter averages 12.5 (62 runs, five dismissals) against Ngidi across formats. His T20 stats are even worse, as he has been dismissed by Ngidi twice for just four runs in the format.
Considering Rahul's inconsistent form and Ngidi's deceiving bowling skills, we expect a cracking contest between these two T20 stars.
Also Read: IND vs AUS: Three major takeaways from the series