Five talking points ahead of the three-match Twenty20 series between India and South Africa starting in Dharamsala on Friday:
Will IPL experience help South Africa?
— South Africa believe that having 10 players in the current squad signed up to the glitzy T20 Indian Premier League will be invaluable in coping with Indian conditions. The tourists know they must bounce back quickly however after being flattened by eight wickets in a practice match by a third-string Indian side on Tuesday.
Focus on World Twenty20
— The three-match series in the shortest format, a rarity on Indian soil, gives both sides an opportunity to launch preparations for the World Twenty20 which takes place in the country in March-April next year. South Africa are still seeking their first major world title, while India, champions in the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007, reached the final of the last edition in Bangladesh in 2014.
Eyes on Dhoni as Kohli looms
— Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a limited-overs great, having led India to title triumphs in the World Cup, World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy. But the emergence of young Test captain Virat Kohli has raised speculation over whether the 34-year-old Dhoni’s reign will last long. He needs victories in both the T20 and one-day series to silence doubters after India were stunned in the shorter format in Bangladesh in June.
Pace or spin?
— South Africa have rested pace spearheads Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel for the T20 leg of the 10-week tour, but visiting coach Russell Domingo believes his other fast bowlers such as Kyle Abbott, Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada are capable of stepping in. India have four spinners, including the seasoned duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh, to pick from in conditions that traditionally favour the turning ball.
Can Michael Hussey deliver for Proteas?
— South Africa have hired veteran Australian Michael Hussey for the T20 series to help their batsmen succeed in Indian conditions. The IPL regular knows India well, and his advice will be invaluable. But where does that leave former South African opener Gary Kirsten — a World Cup-winning coach with India — who is also a batting consultant with the Proteas on a 50-day-a-year contract?