Ireland vs South Africa 1st T20I Preview: Proteas try to maintain focus amid unrest back home
Three more matches, and the South African contingent will be home after more than two months on the road.
It isn't going to be easy for South Africa
Not in a cricketing context. They are still a far superior side than their opponents and are coming off a brilliant 3-2 victory against West Indies - one of the best T20I sides in the world.
If they play to their full potential, South Africa should not find it difficult to win the T20I series against Ireland. However, they have a lot going through their head right now.
Although things have improved now, two states of South Africa continue to be under civil unrest with upwards of 200 deaths reported, and it will be impossible for the 11 players who take the field in the first T20 in Dublin to not be affected by that.
The team head coach Mark Boucher highlighted the civil unrest in South Africa and being more than two months on the road and in bio bubbles as the major reasons for the team being completely flat in the second ODI.
With the date of returning home coming close, it might just work as a motivating factor for South Africa to give it their all in the T20I series and hop on to a flight.
The Village - a happy chasing venue
The match will be played at The Village in Dublin, the venue for the ODI series as well. A total of 14 T20 Internationals have been played in Dublin out of which five have been won by the team batting first while 9 have gone to the chasing team.
The average first innings score at the venue is 159 while that in the second innings is 140. The highest total scored on this ground in T20 Internationals is 252/3, scored in a match between Scotland and Netherland.
The lowest total at the ground was recorded when Ireland were bowled out for just 70, chasing India's 214 run target in June 2018.
McClintock in line for debut
Ireland have called up middle-order batter William McClintock for the T20Is. This is Ireland's first T20I series since March 2020, due to numerous cancellations, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Three uncapped players McClintock, White and wicketkeeper-batter Neil Rock have also been named in the squad.
William McClintock, the North-West Warriors batter, is third on the run charts in the ongoing Interpro T20 competition, and has been described as a proper power hitter.
"Since William's involvement in the Under-19s World Cup in 2015 - at which he hit two half-centuries - we have known about his potential," Andrew White, the chair of Ireland selectors said. "This year we have seen evidence of that potential - not just as a power-hitter, but he has played a number of intelligent innings and been one of the key reasons the North West Warriors have been successful this season.
"Ben White and Neil Rock also make the T20I squad on merit. Ben has impressed many observers, particularly over the last 12 months, bowling with consistency, accuracy and - most importantly - he has been taking wickets regularly. Pebbles [Rock] has been in and around selectors' thoughts for a while, and offers a great back-up keeping option and skilful lower-order batting in this format. We're looking at the series as a chance to expose a wider pool of players to the international arena and look at combinations ahead of the T20 World Cup in October."
Can Ireland bowlers stand up?
Ireland may have lost the last ODI after taking a lead in the series but they still haven't been outplayed per se and that is something the team can take a lot of confidence from.
If they play their shots right, the team has a bunch of stroke makers to put runs on the board. Their bowlers though will have to play out of their skin against an explosive South African batting order.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
South Africa - Quinton de Kock (wk), Janneman Malan/Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo/George Linde, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi
Ireland - Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie (c), Harry Tector, George Dockrell, William McClintock/Curtis Campher, Lorcan Tucker (wk), Simi Singh, Andy McBrine, Mark Adair, Craig Young, Joshua Little
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