The wait is finally over for cricket fans as India look ready to face one of the biggest test in recent times as they battle it out against South Africa in the first of the three-match T20 series on Friday at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala.
Both the teams have some huge stars in their line-up, which makes the contest even more interesting. If India have MS Dhoni, South Africa possess the might of AB de Villiers. There is nothing much to choose between the two sides, though India, who are a strong team at home, might have a slight edge before the start of the series.
However, India is aware of the mega task that lies ahead of them and expects some feisty contests as well. With some competitive and aggressive characters in both the sides for the first T20, one will not be bit surprised if there a bit of aggression shown on the field as well.
India skipper, MS Dhoni, is all game for aggression, but does not want anyone to cross the line.
"Aggression need not mean exchanging words or physical contact. Rahul Dravid had mentioned that aggression is like a good forward defense to a fast bowler. The same way, our guys are also learning how to channelise aggression in the right manner," Dhoni said during a pre-match press conference.
"It's good to show intent, but at the same time you need to be in your guidelines. We have to make sure that everyone is available and that no disciplinary action needs to be taken against anyone."
Even if there is aggression on the field, they need to back it up with performance, else it is going to fall flat. Talks have already surfaced regarding tricky outfield conditions in Dharamsala as the ball races at the speed of knots under lights, which makes the toss even more important.
Both teams resemble a run feast with a number of stroke players for India and South Africa. The visitors, who are set to open with AB de Villiers, have a solid middle order with JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis with some powerful hitters such as David Miller and Chris Morris.
Indian cricket fans need no introduction for these players, who have earned a huge name in the Indian Premier League, which also establishes their experience of playing under Indian conditions. If these batsmen get their act going, the Indian players have to play out of their skin to take a 1-0 series lead.
India will look for special services from Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina with the willow as these players possess a special attribute of winning game from impossible situations, single-handedly.
Apart from batting, India and South Africa also possess some quality bowlers such as Imran Tahir, for South Africa and Ravichandran Ashwin (India) to make it a riveting contest. If the respective batsmen for their side fail, the onus will fall on their bowlers to help the team make a winning start to the series.
Where to watch live
India vs South Africa 1st T20 match has been scheduled for 7 pm local time (3.30 pm SAST, 2.30 pm BST, 9.30 am ET) start. The highly anticipated India vs South Africa 1st T20 match can be followed live in India on Star Sports 1/HD, Star Sports 2/HD and Star Sports 3/HD with the added option of watching it online on Starsports.com and hostar.com
Viewers in South Africa can catch the India vs South Africa 1st T20 live on SuperSport or can watch it online on SuperSport Live.
The live action is not only limited to the two countries as it is set to be broadcast in other countries as well.
UK viewers can watch India vs South Africa 1st T20 live on Sky Sports and live streaming will be made available on Sky Go . Viewers in the US can follow the India vs South Africa 1st T20 live on Willow TV; live streaming is available on Willow TV online.
Viewers in Australia will be able to catch India vs South Africa 1st T20 live on Fox Sports. The live stream option is available on Foxtel.
Viewers in the Middle East can watch the India vs South Africa 1st T20 live on Orbit Show Network or via live stream on OSN Play,
New Zealand audience can watch all the India vs South Africa 1st T20 live on Sky Sport or live online on Sky Go NZ.
Pakistan viewers can catch the India vs South Africa 1st T20 action on PTV Sports.