Having won the first two of their five-match T20I series games against India before losing the third, the Proteas are treating Friday’s fourth game as a final.
Cape Town – Momentum is arguably the most clichéd phrase in T20 cricket. Much like match-ups and gun fielders.
But there is no denying that once a team has this sought-after commodity it rarely lets go. And the same applies in reverse.
Like India who won 12 T20Is in succession and then lost two on the bounce to the Proteas. Temba Bavuma’s side also enjoyed a 13-game winning streak before losing to India in Vizag earlier this week to allow their hosts to scrape back into the five-match series.
It is for this reason that Proteas fast bowler Anrich Nortjé wants to put an immediate stop to this potential slide by closing out the series at the second opportunity in Rajkot on Friday.
“I think this is sort of like a final for us,” Nortje told reporters ahead of the fourth T20I. “The last game we obviously didn’t perform really well or anything towards what we sort of capable of. So this would probably be like a final again for us.
“A second chance. We need to seal the series as soon as possible. And not give them an opportunity or a sniff. That’s the main goal of this series as well.”
South Africa are hoping to have Quinton de Kock back in the line-up after the star wicket-keeper/batter missed the last two games with a hand injury.
The visitors are already without World No.2-ranked T20 batter Aiden Markram, who was ruled out of the entire series due to contracting Covind-19 prior to the opening match in Delhi last week.
The #Proteas batsman spent 7 days in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 last week and will not be able to complete his return to play program in time for the last 2 matches. pic.twitter.com/LSfRCdFsOO
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) June 15, 2022
De Kock’s return would be a major boost for the visitors at the top of the order particularly after his replacement Reeza Hendricks has not quite found his rhythm as yet. The 33-year-old showed some improvement in Vizag with a 20-ball 23, but his opening partnership with Bavuma has overall not been able to set the tempo for the Proteas innings’ upfront.
De Kock has been back in the nets which bodes well for the Proteas, but Nortje was equally confident in the team’s bench strength to grab the opportunity if it arises.
“I’m not too sure. I know he has been practising, so I think we need to find out tomorrow (Friday). But it’s good to see that he is practising. So I think he did some fitness tests today, I’m not too sure. We will only know after the team meeting.
“But I think everyone has been in good form. Everyone has been either playing in the IPL or been training quite hard back home. So it’s nice to see that the guys that are on the bench are really almost performing better than the guys on the pitch at some stages.”
LIKELY TEAMS TEAMS FOR RAJKOT
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), Reeza Hendricks/Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje/Lungi Ngidi.
India: Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant(w/c), Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Avesh Khan.
Start: 3:30pm TV: SS2