West Indies vs South Africa 1st T20I Preview: At full strength, West Indies hold edge in format of choice
This is the first time in six years that the quartet of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard is featuring in a T20 International together.
Close series on the cards
The Test series may have been a one-sided affair, but there is no such danger in the T20s, with the reigning T20 World Champions West Indies taking on a well-balanced South African side at home.
It is surprising that the last time West Indies and South Africa came up against each other in the format was back in March 2016 in the T20 World Cup when West Indies won the close encounter by three wickets.
Massive T20 stars in action
The star power that West Indies have assembled in their squad is also unheard of in recent years. The team has managed to bring together the likes of Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Nicholas Pooran and Dwayne Bravo, all at the same place which all but guarantees an exciting series.
The last time West Indies took the field in T20 cricket was at home in a three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka which they won comfortably by 2-1 - a series remembered mostly for captain Kieron Pollard's 6 sixes in one over of Akila Dananjaya.
South Africa, on the other hand, took on Pakistan in their last T20I series and lost by 2-1. However, with all their top players available this time around, it promises to be a close contest.
Make or break series for Gayle, Edwards
West Indies will open with Lendl Simmons. Despite having registered poor performances against Sri Lanka, Evin Lewis is likely to get a game. If not, Shimron Hetmyer is waiting in the wings.
It will be exciting to see a middle order packed with the power of Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran and Kieron Pollard. Four quality all rounders Jason Holder, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo and Fabian Allen will beef up the West Indies bowling and batting, with spinner Kevin Sinclair featuring alongside Fidel Edwards or Obed McCoy.
This is a very important series for the likes of Gayle and Edwards as it will decide whether or not they remain part of West Indies' plans for the T20 World Cup.
Captain Temba Bavuma back to fitness
South Africa have newly appointed white ball captain Temba Bavuma fit and ready to lead. Bavuma recently missed both the test matches against West Indies, the first one due to a hip injury and the second one due to a dislocated finger.
The skipper is mindful of the prowess of West Indies in this format and accepted that this will be one hell of a challenge for the visitors. At the same time, this will provide South Africa with an opportunity to get their combinations right and for the individuals to understand what exactly needs to be done in order to excel at the upcoming showpiece event.
Grenada is known to be a high scoring venue and if a batting pitch is on offer, batters from both sides will almost certainly cash in.
Rabada, Nortje & Ngidi set to roar again
South Africa have a lot of options for the middle order spots in the absence of Faf du Plessis. Two of Janeman Malan, Kyle Verreynne and Heinrich Klaasen will make the cut. David Miller has gained some form of late and will be in the role of the finisher.
George Linde and Tabraiz Shamsi will be South Africa's leading spinners with the pace battery of Kagiso Rabada, Arich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi who will look to pick up from where they left in the Test series.
The only bummer is the weather forecast which predicts considerable rain during match hours. That said, given that this is the shortest format of international cricket, even if we get a two-hour window, the match should have a result.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
West Indies - Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Fabian Allen, Kevin Sinclair, Obed McCoy/Fidel Edwards
South Africa - Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Janneman Malan, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, George Linde, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi
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