South Africa’s tour of India, 1st T20, Dharamsala : Let the party begin!

One day to go for the Indian cricket season to get going!

To be honest, we can’t remember the last time India had such a long break – its been almost a month since India finished their tour of Sri Lanka!

Three questions present themselves before the first game of this 72 day tour.

Where does Rahane bat?

As always, India are tigers at home and all the talk is about the strong Indian batting line-up.  Within the current crop, there is no dearth of players who could bat in the top 3 in T20s – in fact Dhawan, Rohit, Kohli, Raina, Rahane all bat within the top 3 for their respective IPL teams.

The last time India played South Africa in the World Cup, Rahane batted at number 4 and hit a superb 79 off 60 balls only to be overshadowed by Dhawan’s century. Since then, Rahane has opened for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, opened the innings in the ODIs and batted at numbers 3 and 5 in tests. Musical chairs seem to be the order of the day.

(Does this sound familiar? Is Rahane’s career following the same script as his mentor’s? Will he be asked to keep wicket next?)

Being India’s best batsman along with Kohli, we hope the team management gives Rahane the chance to open tomorrow. He has shown in the past that while he starts at a run a ball, he is no slouch once in and can accelerate quickly. Rahane keeping an end up also allows power-hitters like Raina and Rohit to bat freely around him without worrying about collapses.

However, for better or for worse, the current line of thinking seems to be that “Mr. Talent” will open the batting. Therefore, the batting line up we believe India will play is:

1) Dhawan 2) Rohit 3) Kohli 4) Raina 5) Rahane 6) MSD 7) Binny 8) Ashwin

It will be interesting to see the batting order Dhoni decides to go with in the end. He may surprise us all and push himself up the order!

How do you stop ABdV?

AB de Villiers was voted the most destructive IPL batsman in a poll on this blog earlier this year. Reports suggest ABdV will be opening the batting for South Africa. For India though, R. Ashwin, who was in fine form in Sri Lanka, holds the key. The only way to restrict the marauding South African is to get him early. Dhoni will want Ashwin to bowl when ABdV is at the crease. Dhoni is not shy of opening the bowling with spinners in T20s so expect Ashwin commence proceedings.

An interesting battle within a battle.

Is Binny’s bowling up to the test?

With Sir Ravindra Jadeja not being a part of the squad, MSD is likely to put his faith in the other “all-rounder” Stuart Binny. Sadly, we have a bad feeling about him going the distance. The ball flies true and far in the thin air at Dharamsala. How Binny goes against AB de Villiers and Co. will be crucial for India – his four overs may be the difference between winning and losing on a small, high-altitude ground.

With both teams boasting highly explosive batting lineups, gear up for a run feast. Let the party begin!

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