Indian cricket will achieve a unique feat if the men’s and women’s teams manage to win their respective T20I matches against the two South African teams at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.
Virat Kohli’s men and Harmanpreet Kaur’s girls will have the chance to seal their second series victories in South Africa if they win their respective matches today.
Kohli’s team beat the Proteas 5-1 in the ODIs to clinch India’s maiden bilateral series win in South Africa and they currently lead the three-match T20I series 1-0 after their 28-run win in the first match at Johannesburg.
Meanwhile, the Indian women’s team clinched the ODI series 2-1 and currently lead the five-match T20I series 2-1. Harmanpreet’s team can create history if they win today as no other team has managed to two series victories in South Africa on a single tour.
The Indian men’s team will also register two series wins in South Africa for the first time if they clinch the T20I series at Centurion or at Cape Town on Saturday.
Team India has only complacency to guard against while a deflated South Africa would be fighting another battle of survival when the two sides clash.
NO.2 T20I RANKING IN SIGHTS FOR KOHLI’S INDIA
A prospective 3-0 series win would also help India climb up the ICC T20I Rankings and take up second spot behind Pakistan. However, if Australia beat New Zealand in the T20 tri-series final (on Wednesday as well), India would stay on in their current third position.
India are already ranked No.1 in Tests and ODIs.
Word from the Indian camp is that Kohl will be fit in time for game. The skipper had hobbled off in latter stages of the previous game on Sunday with a left hip problem. The team management had deemed the issue as “nothing serious”, and as such, he is expected to walk out at toss time on Wednesday.
Wrapping up the series here might also enable Kohli to take time off and sit out the final T20I in Cape Town, keeping in mind his hectic schedule over the next three months.
The Indian captain on Tuesday became only the second batsman after South Africa’s AB de Villiers to cross 900-point mark in both Test and ODIs in the latest ICC rankings.
Kohli is one among only five to have crossed 900 points in both forms of the game as he consolidated his top position in ODIs with 558 runs in the 5-1 series win over South Africa, during which he slammed three centuries. The 29-year-old is also the top-ranked batsman in Tests.
The Indian women’s team on the other hand, allowed South Africa to stay alive in the series by slumping to a five-wicket loss against the hosts in the third match in Johannesburg after convincing victories — by seven and nine wickets respectively — in the first two T20 games.
Veteran Mithali Raj too would be hungry for runs after posting a duck in her previous knock. The Indian bowling too looked ordinary in the last match. In the absence of injured veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami, the onus was on young fast bowler Pooja Vastrakar to lead the attack and she did it with aplomb picking up two wickets, giving away just 21 runs from her four overs.
At Centurion, Harmanpreet would want her team to tick all boxes correctly in order to register a rare feat in the history of Indian women’s cricket.