With two-thirds of this series still to be played, it’s fair to assume that this is the sentiment prevailing among most of India’s cricket-consuming public. You can’t blame them, because a: it’s Jasprit Bumrah, b: there’s a World Cup around the corner, and c: information about his injury has been scant and shrouded in a noirish fog.
There is, therefore, still a lot to play for, even if your attention is elsewhere.
India WWWLW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
South Africa LWWWW
In the spotlight
India are likely to stick to a similar combination to the one that played in Thiruvananthapuram, with R Ashwin as one of their two spinners, but could potentially push Pant up the order to give him more time in the middle.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Arshdeep Singh
With South Africa’s squad staying back in India for three ODIs before they head to Australia, a spot of rest and rotation can be expected.
South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma (capt), 3 Rilee Rossouw, 4 Aiden Markram, 5 David Miller, 6 Tristan Stubbs, 7 Wayne Parnell/Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Anrich Nortje/Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Pitch and conditions
“It was hot yesterday at practice, man. It was really hot,” was India coach Rahul Dravid’s first reaction to being asked about the conditions during his pre-match press conference. “We’re lucky the game is in the evening.”
Lucky, yes, because a maximum of 36 degrees Celsius is forecast for Sunday. But maybe not so lucky, since rain is also expected – with a greater likelihood after 7pm.
Dravid suggested the pitch for Sunday’s game “looks a good wicket”, while Wayne Parnell, the South Africa allrounder, hadn’t had the chance to have a close look before his press conference. “This wicket, from what I’ve seen from the dressing room, looks about 22 yards,” he said with the straightest of faces. “It looks slightly brown as well, from what I could see.”
Stats and trivia
- South Africa (1.25) are the only team to have managed a positive win-loss ratio in T20Is against India in India.
- David Miller (1903 runs) needs 32 runs to go past JP Duminy and become South Africa’s most prolific run-getter in T20Is. Quinton de Kock (1895) isn’t far behind either.
- Suryakumar Yadav is 24 runs away from completing 1000 runs in T20Is. If he gets there in Guwahati, he will become the third-fastest Indian to the mark (31 innings). Virat Kohli (27) and KL Rahul (29) are the quickest Indians to 1000 runs.
“I think Harshal’s a really mentally strong cricketer. He’s a fantastic cricketer, and if you just look at his performances over the last two years, they’ve been absolutely phenomenal for the franchise that he plays in. Even in international cricket for us, he’s bowled some really good spells. He’s preparing really well, he’s practising really hard. It can happen. He’s also come off a little bit of an injury, and it takes a little bit of time to get used to it, but I thought he bowled a phenomenal last over against Australia in Hyderabad. Even the last over against South Africa at Trivandrum. At both Hyderabad and Trivandrum, he bowled fantastic last overs. I think eight [seven] runs and seven [six] runs, and he got Tim David’s wicket, and in a tight game, in a close game, that can make a big difference.”
Rahul Dravid isn’t worried about Harshal Patel’s form
“I think personally, from what I’ve watched over the last couple of months, I think he is probably one of the best T20 batters at the moment. He scores 360 [degrees], which is very difficult for bowlers to try and defend. I think it’s just about being strong and taking each ball as it comes. I think the other night [in Thiruvananthapuram], he played some really, really beautiful shots but he was also lucky here and there, and maybe on a different night that goes to hand, but having said that he’s certainly been a guy that I’ve really enjoyed watching over the last couple of months, he’s certainly playing really, really good cricket.”
Wayne Parnell is effusive in his praise for Suryakumar Yadav
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo