India vs. South Africa: Picking a Combined T20 XI
India and South Africa kick off their lengthy 72-day tour with a T20 on Friday. For both sides, this is a crucial part of their preparation for next year's ICC World T20.
Picking a combined XI from the India and South African squads is far from easy. Both sides have a wealth of talent in their midst. Familiarity with conditions and experience played a big part in selection of this side.
What changes would you make to the team? Add your thoughts in the comments.
Some have said Hashim Amla is not a T20 player. But he has had a good run of form in the format recently. In the World T20 last year, he had three consecutive scores of 40 or more, including a half-century.
Against New Zealand most recently, he also managed 48. Amla is a good player of spin and on turning tracks, his calmness would come in handy.
Quinton De Kock
This might be a slightly controversial pick. Against Bangladesh recently Quinton de Kock looked hopelessly out of form. His feet looked stuck in the crease and he struggled to get the big runs he has become known for.
However, he went back to the drawing board and scored three centuries for the South African A team on their tour to India. De Kock therefore makes the team as he has played in Indian conditions recently and has done well doing so.
AB De Villiers
AB de Villiers needs no introduction. Quite simply, he is one of the best batsmen in the world, if not the best. With a wealth of experience under his belt—both domestically and internationally—he would walk into any team in the world.
The only shame is that he can’t open the batting in this order. You want your best batsman to be facing as many balls as possible, but the calm and aggressive combo of Amla and De Kock is good for helping build a platform from which De Villiers can launch.
Like De Villiers, Virat Kohli is one of the best players in the world. Plenty of experience in T20 cricket, including the IPL, and the kind of player that can single-handedly take a match away from the opposition, Kohli would also walk into any T20 side in the world.
Faf Du Plessis
With an average of 42.36 in T20is, including six fifties and a century, Faf du Plessis is one of the most consistent T20 players in the world. With plenty of T20 experience under his belt and as South Africa's captain, Du Plessis has plenty to add to the team.
MS Dhoni’s career might be in its twilight years, but he is still one of the most entertaining T20 players around. Innovative shots and the ability to pick any bowler apart makes Dhoni a player any team would like to have among them.
Surprisingly, Dhoni has never scored a half-century in T20is, but he did average 77.00 with a strike rate of 132.75 last year, pretty good going for a lower-order batsman.
JP Duminy is going to have to chip in with a few overs in this side, but he won’t mind. Over the last year or so, he has become a bit of a “golden arm” for South Africa. It helps that he’s very useful with the bat, too, especially against spin.
Amit Mishra has only made a comeback to international cricket recently. Mishra has played just seven T20s for India, but he recently impressed against Sri Lanka in the Test series.
Having not played since 2011, Mishra took 11 wickets at an average of 15.00. If he can translate that form into the T20s, he'll be a force to be reckoned with.
Ravi Aswhin continues to grow in stature. He is a handy lower-order batsman, but it’s his bowling that makes him really useful. He's not played a T20 this year, but in 2014 he managed 11 wickets at an average of just 14.63, for his best year to date.
He is an attacking bowler that can get the job done without going for lots of runs every time.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the only fast bowler in this side. The team is actually a bit light on bowlers, but Kumar’s ability to swing the ball, even in conditions that aren’t entirely suited to him earns him the nod ahead of all the other seamers in the squads.
Arguably the best T20 bowler in world cricket, Imran Tahir might be pretty poor with the bat, but he is guaranteed to pick up wickets no matter what the surface does.
Because of his variations and how he uses them, batsmen can never settle against him in T20s. As the pressure mounts, so does Tahir’s chances of getting a player out.