Cape Town, Feb 23 India and South Africa will battle it out in the series-deciding third and final Twenty20 International (T20I) at the Newlands Stadium here on Saturday.
In the first game, a brilliant all-round show helped visitors beat hosts South Africa by 28 runs at Johannesburg. In the second game, South Africa, who lost the One-Day International (ODI) series 1-5, kept the T20I series alive by registering a six-wicket victory at Centurion.
The second match was a show of respective batting resolves by both sides, especially of their middle-order batsmen. While Manish Pandey (79 not out off 48) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (52 not out off 28) responded for India, the hosts had to thank Heinrich Klaasen (69 off 30) and Jean-Paul Duminy (64 not out off 40) as they overhauled the visitors' total of 189/4 with six wickets and 1.2 overs to spare.
Klassen and Duminy were particularly harsh on leg-spinner Yuzvender Chahal (0/64) and left-arm medium pacer Jaydev Unadkat (2/42) in the second match. These two will be eager to bounce back with improved performances in the third match as captain Virat Kohli trusts them.
Kohli will depend on seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, if he is not rested, to provide the early breakthroughs. It is though not clear whether Kohli prefers to rest Bhuvneshwar, the way the team rested fellow pacer Jasprit Bumrah in the second match. Bhuvneshwar has played a lot in the tour which comes to end with the match on Saturday.
The place of pacer Shardul Thakur is not guaranteed as the Mumbai right-armer has not impressed much in the two matches. The match may see the return of chinaman spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
In the batting department, alongside skipper Kohli, batsmen Rohit Sharma, Dhawan, Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and Pandey will look to make the most of their capabilities this time also.
Batsman Suresh Raina, who made a comeback in the T20Is will act as a vital cog in the middle-order and will look to proving his mettle after scoring 46 runs in two games.
The home camp will be high on confidence after ending their three-match losing streak across ODIs and the first T20I. They must have been relieved the way they dealt with Chahal, who tormented them in the ODIs.
While Reeza Hendricks punished the Indian spinners in the opener, Klassen and captain Duminy did the job in the second game. Farhaan Behardien and David Miller have not lived up to the expectations yet and the match gives them another chance to make impact and impress the selectors ahead of the busy schedule.
The bowling department, featuring Andile Phehlukwayo, Junior Dala, Dane Paterson and Chris Morris along with chinaman Tabraiz Shamsi will have to come up with something special in order to get rid of the flamboyant Indian batsmen.
India squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur.
South Africa: Jean-Paul Duminy (captain), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, AB de Villiers, Reeza Hendricks, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Chris Morris, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts.