The fifth and final T20I game between India and South Africa was drawn, which means the series was tied 2-2 and the two teams shared the trophy. For both the sides, each T20I now and in the coming months is important in the context of selecting a squad for the T20 World Cup later this year.
India still have 13 T20Is to play before they fly to Australia, with two matches against Ireland, three against England, five against the West Indies and three against Australia. The performances of the players in each of the series will help the selection committee name a squad for the World Cup.
From the series against South Africa, is it clear that the likes of Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik have cemented a place for them in the T20 World Cup squad. Let’s look at the major talking points from the series.
Ishan Kishan’s return to form
Questions were raised when the selection committee named Ishan Kishan in the squad for the T20I series against South Africa. This was because the wicketkeeper batsman was largely inconsistent in the recently-concluded IPL 2022. While he scored runs in the second half of the tournament and ended the season with an average of 32.15, his strike rate of 120 was unimpressive.
However, Kishan roared back to form in international cricket with the series against South Africa. He scored 206 runs in five matches including two half-centuries and one 30-plus knock. Both the fifties came at a good strike rate.
Hardik Pandya’s performances
Hardik Pandya was one of the standout performers in the IPL 2022, and he continued from where he left. Pandya scored 487 runs in the IPL while also chipping in with 8 wickets and in four T20Is against the Proteas, he scored 117 runs at an average of 58.50 and strike rate of almost 154. His crucial partnership with Dinesh Karthik in the fourth T20I in Rajkot helped India level the series 2-2.
Until three months ago, the all-rounder was nowhere in India’s scheme of things but with good performances in the IPL and the T20Is against South Africa, Pandya seems to have booked a place for himself on the flight to Australia for the T20 World Cup 2022.
Rishabh Pant’s poor form
Virat Kohli was rested for this series, which led to KL Rahul being named the stand-in captain. However, he was also ruled out of the series with injury, and Rishabh Pant was made the captain. While he led India to a series draw, Pant’s personal performances were dismal. The wicketkeeper batsman scored only 58 runs in five innings at a strike rate of just 105. What is more worrisome about his batting is the way in which he gives away his wicket. But with quite a few more T20 games to be played before the T20 World Cup, experts feel like Pant is very likely to play the big tournament. “Personally, he would have liked to score a few more runs but it is not concerning him. Certainly, he is a very big part of our plans going ahead in the next few months," head coach Rahul Dravid said during the post-match press conference.
Shreyas Iyer’s inconsistency
Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Shreyas Iyer was largely inconsistent in the IPL 2022. And we saw the story repeat itself in the T20Is against South Africa. Iyer scored a knock each in the 30s and 40s, but was not able to convert them. Experts have also pointed out technical flaws in Iyer’s batting, noting how he has been unsuccessful against pace bowlers. The middle order batsman will be looking to return to form in India’s next assignment against a low-ranked Ireland side.
Dinesh Karthik’s glorious return
Dinesh Karthik made a comeback to the Indian team after three years on the back of some wonderful performances in the IPL 2022. The finisher repaid the trust made in him by the national selectors, helping India finish a nervous chase in the fourth T20I with a 27-ball 55. At 37 years of age, Karthik proved that form is temporary but class is permanent.