IND vs SA T20I Series: Five players to watch out for

After two months of playing franchise cricket during the Indian Premier League (IPL), India and South Africa cricketers will return to national duty for a five match T20I series to be held between June 9 and 19.

Indian team, world number one, and the Proteas, ranked fourth will play the five fixtures in Delhi (June 9), Cuttack (June 12), Visakhapatnam (June 14), Rajkot (June 17) and Bengaluru (June 19).

Here are five players to watch out for during a series which allows both teams the opportunity to try various combinations as they plan for the T20 World Cup to be held in Australia in October and November.

Hardik Pandya


FILE PHOTO: Indian fast bowling all-round Hardik Pandya.   –  GETTY IMAGES


Fast bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya hasn’t played for the men in blue since last year’s T20 World Cup where India failed to reach the semifinals. Since then, the side has gone through a change in captaincy from Virat Kohli to Rohit Sharma and swept New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka all by the same scoreline of 3-0 at home. Struggles with back injury made it tough for Pandya to cement his spot in the Indian team and allowed the management to experiment with Venkatesh Iyer in a similar role. However, Pandya is back into the national squad after leading IPL debutant Gujarat Titans in a title-winning campaign. In 2022 IPL, Hardik scored 487 runs in 15 matches at a strike rate of 131.27 while also taking eight wickets. Three of those eight dismissals were against Rajasthan Royals in the final.

Dinesh Karthik


FILE PHOTO: Indian wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik   –  GETTY IMAGES


Explosive wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik has forced his way back into the Indian team at the age of 37 on the back of a sensational IPL season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Karthik had last worn the national jersey during the 18-run loss to New Zealand in the 2019 Cricket World Cup semifinal in Manchester in which he had scored 6 runs off 25 balls. After spending four years with Kolkata Knight Riders, the Tamil Nadu player was released before the mega action.

The Bengaluru franchise bagged him for Rs 5.5 crore and gave him the role of a finisher. Karthik smashed 330 runs in 16 matches at an average of 55 and a strike rate of 183.33, playing a massive role in leading the team to a third-place finish.

David Miller


FILE PHOTO: South African batter David Miller.   –  GETTY IMAGES


Left-handed middle order batter David Miller was a member of Hardik Pandya’s title-winning Gujarat Titans side during the IPL 2022. Miller showed glimpses of him being back to his former self during the 2021 T20 World Cup where he bludgeoned Sri Lankan pacer Lahiru Kumar for two sixes in the final over of a must-win game. Come IPL 2022 and ‘Killer Miller’ was at his destructive best. The 32-year-old left-hander scored 481 runs in 16 matches at an average of 68.71 and a strike rate of 142.73. It included a crucial innings of 68* against Rajasthan Royals in the first qualifier at Eden Gardens in Kolkata where, requiring 16 off the last over, Miller hit three consecutive sixes against Indian pacer Prasidh Krishna.

Wayne Parnell


FILE PHOTO: South African left-arm pacer Wayne Parnell.   –  GETTY IMAGES


Wayne Parnell, an experienced left-arm pacer and a useful lower-order batter, was the captain of the South African team that lost to Virat Kohli-led Indian side in the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup final in Kuala Lumpur in 2008. He last appeared for the South African national side in a T20I game back in June of 2017. Parnell, along with some of his teammates, had switched to county cricket through the Kolpak system in 2018 before becoming a T20 league specialist. After UK’s exit from the European Union, the Kolpak system is no more and Parnell became the first former Kolpak player to be selected for the men in green for the ODI series at home against the Netherlands. Parnell scored 10 runs in the first match while conceding five runs in a solitary over before the match was called off due to the emergence of Omicron, a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, and the rest of the series postponed. He was a part of the three-match ODI series at home against Bangladesh in which he played the second ODI, walking off the field due to a left leg injury after bowling 2.5 overs. In 13 innings of 40 T20Is, Parnell has scored 114 runs. He has taken 41 wickets at a strike rate of 18.2

Umran Malik


FILE PHOTO: Right-arm pacer Umran Malik, playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad during 2022 IPL.   –  SPORTZPICS


Jammu-born Umran Malik is the latest fast bowling sensation in Indian cricket. The right-armer caught everyone’s attention with his raw pace, clocking 153kph in the 2021 IPL, which he went on to break this edition with a speed of 157kph. The 22-year-old was one of the three players retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad before this year’s mega action and he proved the team management’s decision right. With his express speed and improved accuracy, Malik clinched 22 wickets in 14 matches at a strike rate of 15.29 for the Orange Army in 2022 IPL, which featured best figures of 5/25 against eventual champion Gujarat Titans at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. This is the maiden national call-up for Malik, who was named the Emerging Player of the Season at this year’s IPL.

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