AB De Villiers South Africa India
India need to keep AB De Villiers quiet if they are to beat South AfricaReuters

So then, here we are finally, a day away from what promises to be one outstanding cricketing ride for the next couple-and-a-bit months. India vs South Africa – the big series of T20 internationals, one-dayers and Test matches will get underway on Friday, and what a series/tour it promises to be.

On paper, it looks like this series will be decided by how well South Africa play spin – be that in the T20Is, ODIs or Test matches. Of course, the impact of that contest will vary with the formats – surely the T20 series will be affected the least by the India spinners vs South Africa batsmen battle – but a lot will depend on how AB De Villiers and co. negotiate the slower bowlers.

While pitches for the Test matches are likely to be the kind that will have Virat Kohli grinning from ear to ear, the wickets for the limited-overs matches are expected to be more batsman-friendly, which in turn should make it a much more even contest between the two teams.

Setting the tone for such a huge series is crucial, which is why neither team will want to lose this first T20 international in Dharamsala on Friday.

India go into the match with plenty of preparation under their belt – be that the camp in Bengaluru or the bootcamp in Dharamsala – and with MS Dhoni back at the helm, it will be interesting to see how much that aggression-index – off the charts in the Test series against Sri Lanka under the captaincy of Virat Kohli – changes.

It shouldn't make that much of a difference to be honest, considering Dhoni has been this India team's undisputed captain for years and years. All of the players know how the veteran works, and it will just be "alright let's just do our jobs and see where that takes us" time starting Friday.

India have the batting power to overwhelm any side, especially in the T20 format, and with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel missing from the T20 series, this should be the home team's to win.

But then, in the T20 format, all it takes is one innings. And South Africa have plenty of batsmen capable of playing that one innings across the three matches of this series, chief of them being De Villiers, the best batsman in the world and a man that even the opposition fans cannot help but admire.

If De Villiers fires – and he hasn't that often against India in T20s – the fans at the stadium are going to need hard hats. However, if India are able to pile on the early pressure, which will then allow Dhoni to control the innings with the spinners, there will be only one winner.

The first T20 international in Dharamsala should give us all a solid pointer of what is to come. Let's hope it is a cracker.

1st T20 international schedule: Friday, 2 October: India vs South Africa.

Time: 7 pm local time (3.30 pm SAST, 2.30 pm BST, 9.30 am ET).

Venue: Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala.

TV: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3 and DD National (India), SuperSport (South Africa), Sky Sports 2 (UK), Willow TV (USA).

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