NEW DELHI: The international home season for Indian cricket kicks off with the T20I series against South Africa in Dharamsala on Sunday, with the hosts starting as favourites against a new-look Proteas side led by skipper Quinton de Kock. And the former India batsman VVS Laxman believes India will “approach” the three-match T20I series “with great confidence and optimism”.

Writing in his column for the The Times of India, Laxman felt the way India swept West Indies during the just-concluded Caribbean tour, another “strong performance” is on the cards.
“The ease with which India brushed them aside (3-0 in T20I series) in Lauderhill and Providence was a tremendous achievement, and I expect an equally strong performance against Quinton de Kock’s young South Africa side.” wrote Laxman.
“It was an unqualified success, away from home, against the formidable West Indies who are the defending T20 World Cup champions,” he added.
Teams are already assessing their resources in the shortest format, as the T20 World Cup in Australia next year draws closer.
In that light, Laxman felt focus will be on Shikhar Dhawan, who must score to stay relevant as the “preferred” partner for Rohit Sharma.
“With the next T20 World Cup a little over a year away, India will have to decide whether Shikhar Dhawan is still the preferred opening partner for Rohit Sharma going forward.
“There are a lot of other batsmen capable of striking up a good alliance with Rohit at the top of the order. How long a rope the team management is willing to give him will make for interesting viewing,” the Test icon wrote.
Dhawan registered scores of 1, 23 and 3 in the three-match T20I series against West Indies.
Laxman said that India’s batting firepower tilts the scales in their favour against South Africa.
“India boast of a powerful and experienced batting line-up which gives them the edge straightaway, and the return of Hardik Pandya adds greater firepower to the batting and balance to the team.
“While Hardik will slot straightaway into the playing XI, I would also like to see Manish Pandey retain his place to showcase his abilities,” Laxman signed off.