GUWAHATI: With the match scheduled in the middle of Durga Puja, the traffic in the city here, and around Barsapara Cricket Stadium in particular, on the eve of the second T20 International match between India and South Africa, was clogged. The situation quite resembled the state of India’s team combination right now.
With the upcoming T20 World Cup barely two weeks away, the ongoing series against visiting South Africa is a preparation for the big-ticket event, irrespective of the outcome of the bilateral series. However, as India were hoping to get the team combination right ahead of the ICC meet, Jasprit Bumrah‘s injury added to growing uncertainties.
The yorker king’s absence will surely hurt India’s causes if he eventually fails to board the flight to Australia. His death bowling will surely be missed as he was already grappling with a few injury concerns.
Nevertheless, the Men in Blue will be eager to leave the uncertainty and chaos over Bumrah’s availability for the showpiece event behind as they take on South Africa, stuttering with top order batting, at the Barsapara track on Sunday evening. It happens to be Gandhi Jayanti as well as Saptami.
A lot has been said about the strike rate of KL Rahul’s innings in the first match in Thiruvananthapuram but the India vice-captain is at least back among the runs. However, the eyes will be on the man-in-form Suryakumar Yadav, famously called SKY, not just of because of his initials but also for his ability to hit at will.
Regular skipper Rohit Sharma was conspicuous by his absence at the practice session and it was learnt from close sources that the Hitman arrived in the city only on Saturday morning due to personal reasons. He will be eager to be back among runs along with former captain Virat Kohli as both missed the scoring chances in the low scoring first game of the series.
In the bowling department, Arshdeep Singh looked vicious with his seam bowling in the previous match but the Barsapara track is unlikely to offer that kind of movement. Historically, it has been on the slower side and has aided spinners. But with shorter boundaries, the likes of Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin will surely be tested.
The Proteas batters struggled against the Indian seamers in the series opener, losing half of their side for just nine runs in 2. 3 overs. However, pacer Wayne Parnell defended his teammates saying there’s no need to panic about it.
“It’s just one of those things. It wasn’t a good T20 wicket and they bowled really well, but our batters have been world-class in the last couple of years, so there’s nothing to panic about,” Parnell said at the pre-match press conference on Saturday. “We have to give credit to the Indian seamers. We’ll have to define ways to counter that in the second game.”
About their preparations for the T20 WC, the left-arm pacer said, “It’s been very good over the last few months. We were here in June, then went on a UK tour. Coming back here again before going to Australia.”