Pant to captain India in South Africa T20I series with Rahul ruled out

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Rishabh Pant will captain India for the first time against South Africa after KL Rahul was ruled out of the five-match Twenty20 International series.

Rahul was due to lead India in the absence of the rested Rohit Sharma, but the batter has sustained a groin injury.

That has opened the door for Pant to step up, with Hardik Pandya named vice-captain after leading Gujarat Titans to the Indian Premier League title in his first tournament as captain.

Delhi Capitals skipper Pant is relishing the opportunity to lead his country in a series that starts at Arun Jaitley Stadium on Thursday.

The wicketkeeper-batter said: "It's a great feeling, especially getting an opportunity like this in your hometown.

"There is nothing bigger than this. It didn't come under very good circumstances but I will try to make most of it and give my 100 per cent."

Pant came under fire for costly mistakes he made during a must-win IPL encounter with Mumbai Indians last month, but says he will learn from such experiences.

"I think it [captaining in the IPL] will help me a lot because when you keep doing the same thing over a period of time, you tend to improve," the 24-year-old said.

"I am someone who keeps on learning from my mistakes and that's something which is going to help me in the coming days as well."

Spinner Kuldeep Yadav has also been ruled out of the series after taking a blow on his right hand in the nets on Tuesday, while Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah have been rested along with Rohit.

India will become the first men's team to win 13 T20I matches in a row if they take a 1-0 lead over the Proteas.

The tourists are also in excellent form, having been victorious in 11 of their past 12 games in the shortest format - their only loss during that time coming against Australia in the T20 World Cup last October.

Malik to be unleashed, Karthik returns

Umran Malik has been rewarded for a hugely impressive IPL by being called up for India duty for the first time.

The 22-year-old paceman was the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 22 for Sunrisers Hyderabad and is a hugely exciting prospect.

Dinesh Karthik has not played for his country since 2019, but the 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batter is back in the fold with the World Cup on the horizon.

Nortje back, Van der Dussen closing on landmark

South Africa have brought a strong squad to India and are boosted by the return to fitness of Anrich Nortje.

Nortje had been sidelined by a hip injury, but played in the IPL and is set to fire in a hostile South Africa attack.

The Proteas also have a dangerous batting line-up and Rassie van der Dussen needs only 67 runs to reach the 1,000 landmark in T20Is. If he scores those runs in his next innings, he would be the joint-fastest to reach that figure along with Faf du Plessis (32 innings).

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