The opening show is only a fortnight away. So both India and South Africa will be particularly keen to put in their best efforts in the last dress rehearsal.
The three-match T20I series, which gets underway at the Greenfield Stadium here on Wednesday, offers one last opportunity for the teams to iron out the flaws, try something different and for the stars and to get their acts right ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia, beginning on October 16. India’s first World Cup match is scheduled for October 23 and South Africa’s the following day.
A fine show in this series will do no harm to either team. Both sides have landed in this city -- known for its lovely beaches, rich cultural heritage and traditional as well as colonial architecture – in a confident frame of mind, having won their last respective series.
The city has a strong cricketing tradition, too. A full house is expected for the match. The fans have plenty to look forward to, too, with both teams boasting quite a few showstoppers.
The South Africans would be desperate to stop the flow of runs – which are being scored not just with brute power but with plenty of flair as well – from India’s top and middle order. Few things have brought as much joy to the Indian supporters in recent times as Virat Kohli’s return to form. Skipper Rohit Sharma also seems to be in good touch, after that match-winning, unbeaten, 20-ball 46 against Australia at Nagpur.
Then of course there is the man of the moment – Suryakumar Yadav, who is rapidly growing in stature. It would be interesting to see if he could carry on from his superb 36-ball 69 that helped India win the Australia series, coming back after losing the first match.
After the victory, much-needed after the disappointment at the Asia Cup, Rohit had spoken about the concern the team had about its death bowling. He must be hoping for better performances from the pacers, but should be happy with the way left-arm spinner Axar Patel has delivered against the Aussies.
It will be interesting to see how the South African batting, featuring the likes of Quinton de Kock, David Miller and skipper Temba Bavuma handles him. As for bowling, the visitors have come armed with a formidable pace battery: Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Marco Jansen and Wayne Parnell.
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.
Match starts 7 PM IST