Match Preview – West Indies vs South Africa, South Africa Tour of West Indies 2021, 1st T20I
A fit Temba Bavuma will lead South Africa in the T20Is for the first time, against a team from the West Indies that is peppered with superstars
From here it should get more interesting. After two tests of one-way traffic, expect closer competition between the West Indies and South Africa as the two teams step up preparations for the 2021 T20 World Cup.
West Indies have added Superstars to their roster as they prepare to move up from tenth position on the T20I rankings to contender for the big event. South Africa can’t afford to dream of the same label, given the heartbreak of the past and the chaos it has been in for the past 18 months, which is what a team that often goes to big tournaments expectantly but returns is the pressure could take empty-handed.
South Africa is still in the combo-finding phase, having played T20I sides of the second string in the last two series, while juggling between bio-safe bubbles and test series – one of which never took place against Australia. This is the first time since the England series last November that they have had a group of first-choice players together and they would keep that for the next few tours. You will travel straight to Ireland from the Caribbean and then hope to play Sri Lanka ahead of the T20 World Cup.
The West Indies also have a busy schedule ahead of the Main Event. Thet will host Australia, although not in full strength, and Pakistan for the next two months. They want to consolidate their squad and develop some consistency as they have only won two of the last seven T20I series, both against Sri Lanka.
West Indies LLWLW (Last five T20Is completed, youngest first)
South Africa LLLWL
In the spotlight
Temba Bavuma isn’t the least experienced T20I player to captain South Africa. Aside from Graeme Smith, who made his debut when the format was introduced, Hashim Amla did in his fourth game and Faf du Plessis and Johan Botha in their fifth, but Bavuma might be the least expected. He has been largely viewed as a long form player while his white ball shape and aggression have flown under the radar. This is his opportunity to change the narrative and establish himself as both an inaugural bat and a leader in building the successive T20 World Championships.For all his form in leagues around the world, Andre Russell still has half a century to get a T20I. He’s likely to earn his 50th T20I cap in the series, which is a good time to make a statement with a club or ball. Russell hasn’t taken more than one wicket in a T20I since May 2018, despite having only played five games since that game. That said, this might just be his time to re-establish himself as a senior figure on the national team.Kyle Verreynne could find a spot in South Africa’s middle class against West Indies AFP through Getty Images
West Indies could bring Shimron Hetmyer back to open the batting at the expense of Evin Lewis who had a bad streak against Sri Lanka. They would try to welcome their big guns back to the team – Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Russell and Dwayne Bravo. The quartet last played a T20I together six years ago.
West Indies (likely): 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Evin Lewis / Shimron Hetmyer, 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Kieron Pollard (Capt), 5 Nicholas Pooran (week), 6 Jason Holder, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Dwayne Bravo, 9 Fabian Allen , 10 Kevin Sinclair, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
Bavuma has recovered from both a hip injury and a dislocated finger and would likely bring Quinton de Kock together at the head of the order, which could not leave room for Janneman Malan. Du Plessis’s absence could give Kyle Verreynne a place, even though Heinrich Klaasen is the incumbent. South Africa has an abundance of fast bowlers to choose from and may want to start with their strongest color. These include the test attack by Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje and could have room for another quick one in Andile Phehlukwayo or Sisanda Magala and two weirdos in George Linde and Tabraiz Shamsi.
South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma (Capt), 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 Heinrich Klaasen, 5 David Miller, 6 George Linde, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo / Sisanda Magala 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Anrich Nortje, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Parking space and conditions
The National Cricket Stadium in Grenada only hosted one T20I last January. Over 400 runs were scored in that game when the West Indies hosted Ireland. This running festival did not look like an accident, as the year before an ODI between the West Indies and England comprised over 800 runs.
So expect big runs, but only if the weather permits. In Grenada it rained in the run-up to the game and showers are announced for the next week. The probability of rain on Saturday is 70%.
Statistics and trivia
“The test series obviously went exceptionally well and one of the results from this series is dynamism, even if it’s a different format. It is only natural that we should have that confidence in this series.
Captain Temba Bavuma hopes South Africa can transfer its test form to the T20Is
Firdose Moonda is the South Africa correspondent for ESPNcricinfo