Dominant India face South Africa in T20 series opener today

Africa
DHARAMSALA: South Africa captain Quinton de Kock (C) throws a ball during a practice session at the HPCA Stadium on eve of the first T20 International against India.—AFP

DHARAMSALA: India will be ruthless when they take on a new-look South Africa in their den, skipper Virat Kohli warned on Saturday as the two sides squared up for the first T20 in Dharamsala.

Fresh from a dominating show against the West Indies in the Caribbean, India are playing their first home series after the World Cup in England earlier this year.

“We want to win every game, whether it’s home or away, any format — we just want to go out there, play our best cricket and win,” Kohli said at the pre-match news conference in the Himalayan city.

The South African side is looking to regroup after a disastrous World Cup where they were knocked out in the league stage.

The two teams will lock horns in a three-Test series following three T20 Internationals.

Kohli, 30, also had to take a barrage of questions on the future of senior batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has been left out of the T20 squad.

Young Rishabh Pant was picked instead with the selectors looking to groom him as the team’s first-choice wicketkeeper.

Kohli had himself triggered fresh rumours on Dhoni’s future on Thursday by tweeting a photo of them which many on social media interpreted as a tribute to the senior player.

But on Saturday Kohli said he had uploaded the photo casually and denied any hidden meaning.

“I had nothing on my mind. I was sitting at home and I normally put out a photograph and it became a news item,” Kohli said. “There was nothing in farthest stretch of my imagination while putting that picture out on social media.”

Asked if Dhoni, 38, would be considered for next year’s World T20 in Australia, Kohli did not give a direct reply.

“As long as he is available and continues to play, he is going to be very valuable,” he said.

South African batsman David Miller said the revamped team under Quinton de Kock had quite a few new faces but they were up for the Indian challenge.

“We’ve got a lot of energy amongst the squad,” said Miller. “There are actually a lot of guys who have played a lot of cricket, in the A side and domestically. So, all of us are really, really experienced in each department and it’s just a great stepping stone.”

South Africa are ranked third in T20s, one rung ahead of India.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2019

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