You know those awesome rocket launch sequences where amid various shots of the vehicle looking all epic and the crew looking all steely there’s a disembodied voice that goes “T-minus…” Picture that… except instead of the wonders of space exploration, we’re talking about a bunch of people doing a bunch of things to get their hands on a cup that doesn’t even look like a cup… which they’ll only be able to hold onto for like a year. Two tops.
It’s time for the T20 World Cup countdown, baby!
That said, three matches, this late, aren’t going to offer a whole lot of clarity on what to do and what not to. The good only reinforces what they already know and the bad, well, that gets thrown in the bin because there’s no time for that. So in a way, this series could be a bit of a free hit for both India and South Africa. One last chance to go out and have utter, almost no consequence fun. And it starts in T-minus…
India WWLWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa WWWWL
With Hardik rested and Deepak Hooda injured, India will have a job balancing their XI. Shahbaz Ahmed is the allrounder they’ve called up but he only bowls spin and that area is covered with Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal. So perhaps the team management will bring back Rishabh Pant and roll the dice with five bowlers. It limits flexibility but hey, at least the frontliners will get even more experience of those pressure situations they’ll be put under in the World Cup.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Rishabh Pant, 6 Axar Patel, 7 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Arshdeep Singh, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
What does Temba Bavuma’s return from injury mean for Reeza Hendricks, who has hit four half-centuries in his last five innings as opener? Will he drop to No. 3, which sounds easy enough, except it’ll mean no place for Rilee Rossouw and that doesn’t make sense given his exploits in franchise cricket.
South Africa (probable): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma (capt), 3 Rilee Rossouw, 4 Aiden Markram, 5 David Miller, 6 Tristan Stubbs, 7 Andile Phelukwayo/Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Marco Jansen, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Greenfield stadium in Thiruvananthapuram has only hosted two T20Is so far — and one of them was rain-hit and reduced to eight overs. So it’s still a bit of an unknown. The forecast suggests there is a possibility for showers on Wednesday night.
South Africa captain Temba Bavuma on what to expect from the conditions in Thiruvananthapuram