Five talking points in the Twenty20 series between hosts India and South Africa which the tourists won 2-0 after the final match was washed out:
South Africa gain from IPL experience
— Very evident in South Africa’s series win was how easily they adjusted to Indian conditions. Not surprising really since as many as 10 players in South Africa’s squad are signed up for the glitzy T20 Indian Premier League. It helped that skipper Faf du Plessis, who turns out for his Indian counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s IPL side Chennai Super Kings, had better luck with the toss that left India to field second in slippery dew conditions both times.
World Twenty20 fears rise for India
— If the series loss is an indication, India have much to do if they are to prove competitive in the World Twenty20 to be held in the country in March and April. Dhoni’s men may have won the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007 and reached the final of the last edition in Bangladesh in 2014, but the Proteas appear to be in better shape at the moment to win their first major title.
Will Dhoni lead India at the World Twenty20?
— The noose is tightening around Dhoni, a limited-overs great who has led India to title triumphs in the World Cup, World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy. With young Test captain Virat Kohli waiting in the wings, critics are already calling for a change at the top, saying Dhoni is past his sell-by date. Having already retired from Test cricket, 34-year-old Dhoni needs to win the five-match one-day series that starts on Sunday to silence his doubters.
South Africa’s pace scores over India’s spin
— The battlefield is clearly defined. South Africa bank on their fast bowlers to deliver, while India rely on their slow bowlers, notably off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Pace has clearly dominated the first leg of the long tour. Further bad news awaits India as the tourists will be reinforced by pace spearheads Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who were rested for the T20 games. It leaves coach Russell Domingo with an embarrassment of riches to choose from for the one-dayers. India, meanwhile, are still to find an effective comrade-in-arm for Ashwin.
Slushy Garden of Eden
— The drainage system at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata is so poor that a sharp 30-minute shower five hours before the scheduled start washed out the third and final T20 game on Thursday. This should worry the International Cricket Council and the Indian board, since the iconic venue is due to host the final of the World Twenty20 next April, a month that usually brings bad weather to the eastern metropolis. Fortunately, there are no WorldT20 games scheduled in Cuttack which witnessed crowd trouble during the second match.