The big picture: With India comes money
Summer is loaded in the Southern Hemisphere. December (with a Z because that’s how we like to say it to convey the holiday spirit) is in full swing. The end-of-year parties are underway, and the cricket will kick off with the all-round visit to India, the only men’s international cricket tournament to be held in South Africa this summer.
These T20Is are the last competitive matches that South Africa will play before they have to name their T20 World Cup squad, which will play three matches in the West Indies before the tournament. India have these matches and one more series – against Afghanistan in January – before the T20 World Cup. The importance of finding combinations is therefore amplified for both teams, although they will also depend on performance in the T20 leagues, especially SA20 and IPL, where the mainstays play.
The fixtures roll thick and fast, with a one-day gap between each of the T20Is, and two days before the ODIs begin. By then, South Africa will have entered the belly of the holiday season, with mid-December a good time for many to get back on their feet, grab a cold glass and watch some cricket.
South Africa:LLLLW (last five games, most recent first)
In the spotlight: Reza Hendricks and Ravi Bishnoi
Team News: New faces for South Africa
Breetzke has been confirmed as Hendricks’ partner at the top of the order, but not as the designated wicket-keeper. This leaves the South Africans to choose between Tristan Stubbs and Heinrich Klaassen. There is an abundance of players available, but only two are likely to play – Donovan Ferreira, Marco Janssen, and Andile Phlukwayo. There could be a debut for Berger, with a couple of spinners to add experience to the young attack.
South Africa (Possible): 1 Risa Hendricks, 2 Matthew Bretzke, 3 Aiden Markham, 4 Tristan Stubbs/Heinrich Klaassen (wk), 5 David Miller, 6 Donovan Ferreira, 7 Marco Janssen/Andile Phlukwayo, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Gerald Coetzee Nandri Berger ,11 Tabrez Al Shamsi
It remains to be seen whether Deepak Chahar, who missed the last T20I final against Australia due to a medical emergency, is available for the series opener in South Africa. At the top, India will have to choose between the returning Shubman Gill and Ruturaj Gaikwad. If India can accommodate just one wicket, it will be a toss-up between Bishnoi and Kuldeep Yadav
India (Possible): 1 Yashavi Jaiswal, 2 Shubman Gill/Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Suryakumar Yadav (capt), 5 Rinku Singh, 6 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav/Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Muhammad Siraj, 11 Arshdeep Singh/Mukesh Kumar
Pitch and conditions
Stats and trivia
- India has won two of the last four T20I series against South Africa, with the other two drawn. The last time South Africa beat India in a T20I series was in October 2015, when they won 2-0 in India.
- Arshdeep Singh is India’s leading T20I bowler this year, with 25 wickets at 23.68. Of the full member nations, he is the second highest wicket taker in 2023.
- There is very little riding on the draw at Kingsmead. In the 19 T20Is played there, teams batting first have won eight, which is exactly the same number as teams batting second. There was one draw between India and Pakistan in the 2007 T20 World Cup, with two matches lost.
“In the lead-up to the World Cup, there’s a lot of cricket before that but there’s not a lot of cricket for us as a team together. But as long as the players understand the way we want to try to play as a team, and keep that close to them in the different leagues and tournaments.” Then hopefully by the time we meet at the World Cup next year, they will be used to this brand and the way we want to work as a team.”
Aiden Markram South Africa’s entry into the brave new world of limited-overs cricket is led by the duo
“The guys I watch now in T20s are expressive and don’t have much fear of failure.”
Suryakumar Yadavcaptain of the Indian T20I team, is in awe of the youth in Team India
Firdaus Munda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent for South Africa and women’s cricket