South African cricketers are back on the road after their ordinary outing in the ICC World Cup in England. A poor tournament and a few retirements later, a relatively young group has arrived on Indian shores to first indulge in three T20Is before the Test series. The T20I side will be led by a new captain in Quinton de Kock as they begin their preparations for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia against Virat Kohli's India.
Having already picked top five Indians to watch out for, here are the five players from South Africa you want to keep your eyes and place your bets on:
Quinton de Kock
With the reins of South African T20 cricket handed over to De Kock, his first series as a full-time leader is an important chapter in his career. Although only 26, De Kock, who is in his eighth year of international cricket, is one of the senior-most members of the visiting side.
The Proteas will bank on his destructive prowess at the top of the order for providing bright starts. De Kock's attacking style will be a huge boon for his side in the powerplay and he will most certainly be the lynchpin of South Africa's batting order.
De Kock has played only one T20I this year but he had an outstanding run with the bat for Indian Premier League 2019 champions Mumbai Indians.
The wicketkeeper-batsman amassed 529 runs to finish as the leading run scorer for Mumbai Indians and also end third on the Orange Cap list.
Rassie van der Dussen
With his full range of strokeplay in the World Cup, Rassie van der Dussen showed glimpses of his promise several times, but couldn’t kick on to built a monumental innings. Having said that, in what was a poor tournament as per South Africa’s standards, the new vice-captain, touted as the next big thing in batting among South African circles, was one of the highlights for the Proteas.
He scored 311 runs at an average of 62.20 and strike rate of 90.40 in the tournament. Although only 17 matches into his ODI career, he averages 73.77 that too without a century to his name so far, a statistic that underlines his consistency.
His record in the shortest format isn’t bad either. Van der Dussen has represented South Africa in seven T20Is where the middle-order batsman has scored 253 runs at an excellent average of 36.14 while also maintaining his strike rate over 130 (133.15).
The Highveld Lions batsman would be eager to make his mark among large Indian crowds and perhaps even present an audition for the IPL franchises for the next year's edition.
Speaking of destructive openers, Reeza Hendricks has built quite a reputation of being a strong force at the start of the innings. The right-hander teaming up with captain De Kock as the opener could form a boisterous pairing for South Africa.
With De Kock missing out on most T20Is for South Africa, Hendricks shouldered the responsibility scoring heavily against both Pakistan and Sri Lanka in two three-match T20I series. Hendricks was the top-scorer (107 runs in three games) from South Africa in the series against Pakistan while he was the leading run-scorer (139 runs, including two fifties) in the series against Sri Lanka. In addition, he won the Player of the Series award after Proteas completed a 3-0 sweep in March.
The 30-year-old batsman played a starring role in Jozi Stars' title-winning Mzansi Super League (MSL) campaign in 2018, racking up 412 runs in nine innings at a strike rate of 142.56 comprising four consecutive fifty-plus scores and on a couple of occasions he went on to complete his hundred as well.
More recently, Hendricks was one of the positives for South Africa in the preceding tour to India, where he smashed a century along with two successive fifties in the five-match ODI series against India A. With 239 runs in five matches at 59.75, Hendricks yet again finished as the highest run-getter.
Similar to De Kock, Kagiso Rabada, peaked in the IPL for his franchise but couldn’t deliver the goods for South Africa during the World Cup in England following the T20 league in India. However, there is no denying to Rabada’s quality as one of the leading fast bowlers going around in international cricket.
A rejuvenated Rabada will be raring to kick-start a new chapter for South African cricket, one where there are no Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir. The sojourn begins with the T20I series in India.
Rabada’s returns in the 2019 season were exceptional. He claimed 25 wickets in 12 matches, finishing second behind Purple Cap winner, Tahir, who piped him in the race with 26 wickets having played five more games than his compatriot.
No point embellishing the fact that the Proteas hopes of succeeding are directly proportionate to Rabada’s performances. Rabada’s battle against India’s top three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli could be decisive for South Africa.
Injuries have plagued Anrich Nortje throughout his career more so in 2019 where he was first sidelined from the IPL followed by another injury that kept him out of the World Cup.
Nortje’s superior ability to generate extreme pace has propelled him one of the most exciting fast bowling talents going around. He constantly clocks in high 140s and can also upset batsmen with some steep bounce.
He is yet to make his T20I debut, Nortje’s has already attracted a lot of attention through his performances in the MSL.
A quick look at his T20 record should give a fair indication of his skill. In 12 matches he has picked 19 wickets at 13.73 runs apiece, striking every 12.7 deliveries with an impressive economy rate of 6.47.
Nortje made his ODI debut this year and has taken eight wickets in the four matches he has played. In the A series against India he claimed seven wickets including a Player of the Match performance of 3/36 in the fourth unofficial ODI that saw South Africa A register their only win of the series. His victims included Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and Shivam Dube.
Sans an injury, Nortje is likely to be paired with senior paceman Rabada and the duo could pose a challenge to the high-flying Indian batsmen.
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