India face South Africa in the second Test at Pune while Pakistan look to bounce back after a defeat in the first T20I against Sri Lanka.
Which is the greatest T20I side ever? We recognise and adore the great West Indian Test side of the 1970s and 80s. We detest, but accept, the Australian dominance in ODIs and Tests in the 2000s. We know that the current Indian Test and ODI side has been outstanding in the last decade. But what do we know about the greatest T20I side ever?
It's a question not so often raised but if you dig up the stats, the current Pakistan side is as close as it comes to T20I domination over a period of time. Since the last T20 World Cup, this side has won 30 of the 38 T20Is they have played, a win/loss ratio of 3.75!
That's as close as it gets to dominating a format. That they are up against a visiting side which is deprived of its first team owing to security concerns should ideally have resulted in a one-sided series. But Sri Lanka, the Lions they are, have taken first honours by beating Pakistan in the first T20I at Lahore by 64 runs. Can the T20 champions find their mojo and win two in a row to retain the series?
Watch out for:
- Usman Khan is a beast in limited-overs cricket and comes with the sole agenda of establishing himself in the Pakistan side, a task that remains incomplete despite his outstanding returns.
- Danushka Gunathilaka is on the same boat as Usman Khan. He has proven his status as a limited-overs cricketer with two stunning knocks in two different formats this series. Can he win another for Lanka and complete a memorable tour?
India vs South Africa
For once South Africa aren't complaining about the pitch. Faf du Plessis has termed the pitch an "ideal" one although it remains to be seen if that tone changes as the series progresses on drier wickets at Pune and Ranchi. Either way, buoyed by a first innings effort, South Africa will hope to test India at Pune.
Their efforts will be led by two Indian-origin spinners in Keshav Maharaj and Senuran Muthusamy, both of whom played vital roles in the Vizag Test match. Let's not rule out this inside factor that South Africa have over India but all said and done, it would need a herculean effort to beat India at home, a task that has only been accomplished by visiting sides four times in the last decade.
Watch our for
- Rohit Sharma slammed two hundreds at Vizag and is favoured to open through the year for India with the captain and coach desperate to prove that he is a long format player. So far that has been established but Rohit would be the last person to breathe easy knowing the kind of critics he has.
- Ravichandran Ashwin has eight four plus wicket hauls against South Africa at home in his last nine innings. To get past the off-spinner, further motivated by the step-motherly treatment dished out to him away from home, would be a massive task for the Proteas.
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Featured image courtesy: AFP/ Noah Saleem