India take on South Africa in the first game of the five-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series on Thursday. The match will be played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, New Delhi. India have some big names like Virat Kohli, captain Rohit Sharma and fast-bowling ace Jasprit Bumrah missing and the T20I series will be an opportunity for a fair few to make an impression, especially looking ahead to the T20 World Cup this year in Australia. Two names that fans and everyone else concerned will be keeping a keen eye on will be Dinesh Karthik and Umran Malik. Both were exceptional in IPL 2022 and will be hoping to replicate those performances on the international stage.
Here’s our India predicted XI for the 1st T20I vs South Africa:
KL Rahul: The stylish right-hander will be leading the Indian team in the absence of Rohit Sharma. He had a fine IPL 2022, finishing second to Orange Cap winner Jos Buttler with 616 runs in 15 games, averaging 51.33. He will look to carry forward that form and get the job done in India colours.
Ruturaj Gaikwad: Having won the Orange Cap in IPL 2021, a lot was expected from Gaikwad this season but he had a slow start to the season. Despite failing to hit the heights of IPL 2021, the right-hander finished IPL 2022 as the top run-getter for CSK with 368 runs in 14 matches.
Shreyas Iyer: With competition at an all-time high in the Indian team, the KKR skipper really has a chance to stake a claim in the playing XI but will need a consistent run of form. He had looked in good touch in IPL 2022, scoring 401 runs but got out one too many times after getting off to starts.
Hardik Pandya: India’s premier all-rounder is back and he makes his return to international cricket on the back of leading his team Gujarat Titans to the IPL title. Hardik was impressive with both the bat and ball, and that only bodes well for Indian cricket.
Rishabh Pant: The wicketkeeper-batter didn’t have the best of times with the bat in IPL 2022 by his standards. He scored 340 runs in 14 matches but failed to score a single half-century. Though, Pant currently is the number one wicketkeeper in the team, some poor performances could put some pressure on him with others doing well.
Dinesh Karthik: The veteran cricketer is back in the thick of things. Following a sensational outing in the IPL 2022, it was pretty much impossible to keep him out. He finished games off brilliantly for RCB and India too would be looking at him to do a similar job.
Yuzvendra Chahal: The leg-spinner was nothing short of brilliant in IPL 2022, taking home the Purple Cap thanks to the 27 wickets he took in the tournament. Chahal could also be united with his spin bowling partner Kuldeep.
Kuldeep Yadav: Having been on the outside looking in, the left-arm spinner has fought his way back into the team. Kuldeep Yadav showed great heart, and produced some fine performances in IPL 2022, and should now get a chance to do the same for India as well.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: The right-arm pacer is the most experienced fast bowler in the squad for the series, and that should be enough for him to get into the playing XI. In IPL 2022, Bhuvneshwar got only better with every passing match and was nailing his yorkers by the end of the tournament.
Harshal Patel: The RCB star was overshadowed by teammates Josh Hazlewood and Wanindu Hasaranga in IPL 2022 but still showed enough to warrant a place. He took 19 wickets in 15 matches at an economy rate 7.66.
Umran Malik: The tearaway fast bowler is one of the most exciting prospects to come out of India in recent times. Regularly bowling over 150kmph, India could do with a bowler like that. But Umran has competition from the likes of Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan. He will need to quickly make his mark if he wants to cement his playing going forward.
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