The Test series is done and dusted; the teams will now switch focus to the shortest format as the T20I series is set to begin.
Both teams will be looking to use this 5-match series to get a better understanding of their potential World Cup squads, with the T20I World Cup, just 4 months away now and with a limited number of games available now.
West Indies have enjoyed success in this format, having only lost 2 of their last 5 series. This is a format where the Windies shine, and they have a very strong team. The Universe Boss is back and will look to unleash at the top of the order. We only need to look at what’s transpired in the IPL to know what captain, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are capable of, and with bowlers like Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas, they are building a very strong World Cup team. This will be a good test for the Proteas.
South Africa have had a torrid time in this format, winning only 4 of their last 16 t20Is, and subsequently losing their last 5 series’, 3 of which have been at home.
Having a strong squad goes a long way to having good performances, and thankfully, South Africa have done away with the experiment of Pite van Biljon and JJ Smuts, who, whilst they are fine cricketers for franchises, struggled to make that step up to international cricket. The Proteas have continued to support their young players like Janneman Malan, Kyle Verreynne and Bjorn Fortuin, which is encouraging to see, and they have a strong bowling attack with KG Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi back after missing the previous series against Pakistan.
I am pleased Sisanda Magala was selected again. He would be the first to admit that his debut T20I series didn’t go quite according to plan, but the selectors must trust that he will learn from that experience which will only make him better going forward. His death bowling skills are essential to a successful South African bowling attack.
Lizaad Williams was thoroughly impressive in the T20I series against Pakistan earlier this year, and was the leading South African wicket-taker in that series, and it would be good for him to get experience outside of South Africa. It wouldn’t hurt to rotate the likes of Rabada, Nortje and Ngidi throughout the series and play Magala and Williams in a couple of the T20Is to give them this experience.
Andile Phehlukwayo has been in a run of poor form lately and his performances in the teams last T20I encounter left a lot to be desired with him not fulfilling his all-rounder role. Therefore, I am opting for George Linde as my all-rounder in the first T20I, along with the no.1 T20I bowler in the world, Tabraiz Shamsi
South Africa have not announced a vice captain for the T20I side, and there are doubts as to whether Temba Bavuma will recover from his dislocated finger in time for the opening fixture. Seeing as Heinrich Klaasen led the side in Bavuma’s absence in the Pakistan series, Klaasen is the likely choice to lead the team in Bavuma’s absence now. However, if Bavuma is fit, Klaasen does not make my playing XI for the opening game, but could feature in the remaining matches.
After winning the Test series so comprehensively, South Africa need to make a statement in the T20I series, to that end, for the opening fixture I propose they go in with their strongest playing XI and then look to rotate players (Klaasen, Magala, Williams, Fortuin, Markram etc.) in the remaining matches. The key is to start strong, and they can do that with their best and most consistent XI.
This series is going to be hard-fought one but is sure to provide a great deal of enjoyment. With entertainers like Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, how could it not?
The first T20I starts on Saturday evening, 8pm SA time.
My playing XI for the opening game only:
Quinton de Kock, Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie vd Dussen, David Miller, Kyle Verreynne, George Linde, KG Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi & Lungi Ngidi