Mohali, September 17: Rishabh Pant's form would be an important sub-plot when India look to seize the advantage against South Africa in the second T20 International here on Wednesday (September 18) after a washout in Dharamsala.
The skipper Virat Kohli had said the current crop of youngsters need to make the chances count in the limited time they are going to get. One of them is Rishabh Pant, who can't be bracketed as a "youngster" anymore having made his debut back in February 2017.
In a chat with the host broadcaster, the message for Pant from the team management was loud and clear: he can't repeatedly throw his wicket away and if he does "there will be a rap on the knuckles".
With Kohli still very much open to having Mahendra Singh Dhoni back on board, pressure is mounting on Pant to do justice to his rich talent.
Considering the circumstances, it was not a surprise that Pant had a hit in the nets right after the team flew here from Dharamsala.
Pressure will also be on leg-spinners Rahul Chahar and Washington Sundar, both of whom have been picked ahead of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal for the second straight series.
With 20-odd games to go before the World Cup, the Indian team wants to boost its batting which will require number 8, 9 and 10 to score runs on a regular basis, something which has never been India's strength.
Will a deep batting line-up compromise India's ability to wake wickets in the middle overs? Only time will tell.
It is also an important series for Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey, who have been brought back into the side to solidify the middle order. The game will also be an opportunity for Shikhar Dhawan to play a substantial knock, having endured a lean tour of the West Indies.
This is a ground he is fond of, having scored a memorable 187 on his Test debut and more recently a 143 in the ODI against Australia in March this year, albeit in a losing cause.
On the other hand, it will be an uphill task for South Africa to beat this Indian side, which has been on a roll for most part. Time in the middle for a team in transition would have been valuable but rain robbed the Proteas of that opportunity in Dharamsala.
The Kagiso Rabada-led attack would have to bowl really well to contain the Indian batsmen especially Kohli, who played one of his best knocks against Australia in March 2016, the last T20 played here, to take India to the World T20 semifinals.
Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c), Rassie van der Dussen (vc), Temba Bauvma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukyao, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde.
Match will be live on Star Sports Networks from 7 PM IST and live stream will be on HotStar. You can also follow the match via MyKhel Live Blog.