India vs South Africa, 5th T20I Preview: Rain threat looms large with all to play for
With the series poised beautifully at 2-2, the winner takes all in Bengaluru.
The way South Africa produced sparkling chases in the first and the second matches of the five-match T20 series, it seemed that the team would lift the Paytm Trophy with ease.
However, those following Indian cricket over the last few years were quietly confident. This Indian team, with or without their stars, has shown that they don't take it lying down anymore and produce their best effort when their backs are against the wall.
The reply did arrive in the 3rd T20 in Visakhapatnam with India registering their highest T20 win over South Africa. That was bettered in the very next match as India crushed South Africa by a massive margin of 82 runs to record their new biggest T20I win over South Africa and the fifth highest overall.
The series is now level at 2-2 with momentum on the side of India. It will be interesting to see which team comes out on top in Bengaluru.
Given that the series started shortly after a lengthy IPL season, the fans were a bit sceptical to begin with. The uncertainty was about whether or not the quality of cricket will be right up there, but South Africa brought their best available side which helped the Indian boys to up their game as well.
Despite missing the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Ravi Jadeja, the Indian players have risen to the occasion and have provided a gripping series to the spectators.
That said, there is one big threat which is looming large over the decider and that is rain. The monsoon has just arrived or is on the way throughout southern and northern India.
Bengaluru, which is already notorious for its rain, will witness showers throughout the week. The rain forecast for Sunday, when the 5th T20 is set to be played, is no different.
What's worse is that the peak precipitation of 74% is between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. when the match is scheduled to start. It will reduce to 55% by 9:00 p.m. and a late start is expected.
One can never say anything with certainty when it comes to weather but the fans will be fortunate to have a curtailed match. One is hoping that we at least get to see some action as it will be a shame if the closely-contested series ends with the drab bottomline of 2-2.
India favourites to win
India's chances of winning the series are bright, particularly after South Africa have been hit by injuries left, right and centre.
Aiden Markram has already returned home after contracting COVID-19. The team was without Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell, both of whom suffered injuries. Their replacements Marco Jansen and Lungi Ngidi did a good job in Rajkot.
Temba Bavuma also injured his hand while diving in the 4th T20. Reeza Hendricks will now partner Quinton de Kock at the top in the final match of the series.
It will be interesting to see whether QDK agrees to captain or the captaincy armband goes to Heinrich Klaasen, who was not even in South Africa's starting XI just a few matches ago.
Predicted Playing XIs
India - Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (c & wk), Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Avesh Khan
South Africa - Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Dwaine Pretorius, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje
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