Shikhar Dhawan or KL Rahul? India's predicted playing XI for 1st T20I against South Africa
India will start favourites against visitors South Africa in the three-match T20I series which gets underway in Dharamshala on Sunday. The Virat Kohli-led side is heading into the series on the back of complete annihilation of West Indies in the Caribbean and will be eager to replicate their heroics back home against an exciting but inexperienced Proteas side. South Africa will be taking the field for the first time after a humiliating World Cup campaign where they suffered five defeats in nine games to become the second team to be dumped out of the showpiece event after minnows Afghanistan.
Nothing much has changed for the Proteas since then except Faf du Plessis is no more in charge in the shortest format of the game. South Africa will be led by Quinton de Kock, who is arguably one of the most experienced campaigners in the squad which has a number of promising youngsters willing to make their mark in world cricket. It will be a challenging task for the young side to stage an upset against the hosts despite possessing a great record in India.
South Africa have never lost a T20I game against India in India but it is going to be an incredibly difficult task for them to keep that record intact against a ruthless Indian side with significant firepower in their batting department. While the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Beuran Hendricks might cause trouble to the Indian batsmen, the South African bowling attack will have their task cut out against formidable Indian top-order in Dharamshala.
India will be boosted to have Hardik Pandya back in the reckoning with the all-rounder bringing back the much-needed balance into the line-up. His inclusion will also release some pressure off Rishabh Pant, who will be looking to find his mojo in T20Is after returning with 69 runs from three T20Is against Windies. Shikhar Dhawan didn't have an impressive outing against West Indies but with back-to-back fifties for India A against South Africa A, he is likely to be trusted to open with in-form Rohit Sharma.
Shreyas Iyer might pip Manish Pandey in the playing XI after impressing with consecutive fifties in two ODIs against West Indies to inspire India to a clinical series victory. Meanwhile, Deepak Chahar and Navdeep Saini are expected to feature in the pace department with Jadeja and Krunal constituting the spin department. India might not opt to go with a frontline spinner considering the outfield will be wet due to chances of rain which might see Khaleel Ahmed play in place of Rahul Chahar.
India's predicted playing XI against South Africa for 1st T20I:
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini