India will seek to avoid a series defeat when they take on South Africa on Monday in the sides’ second Twenty20 international. It was the Proteas who took first blood on their long tour of India, with a seven-wicket win in Dharmasala on Friday, on the back of JP Duminy’s 68. And South Africa can now seal the series in Cuttack with a match still to play.
In what is crucial preparation for the World Twenty20 in India next March, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team will be desperate to avoid a home loss. Friday’s contest was India’s first T20 outing with their full-strength lineup for more than a year. And they appeared to be on course for a morale-boosting win. Opener Rohit Sharma struck a rare T20 century, and, while the innings faded late on, a total of 199 still left South Africa needing to chase down a total of 200 or more for just the second time in their history.
But the tourists did just that when Duminy, the second highest run scorer in the history of T20 internationals, made 68 off just 34 balls, including hitting the winning run with two balls to spare. It means Sharma, despite his 106, was left deflated, although eager to improve on Monday.
“It was a good knock but we lost the game,” he said, reports the Indian Express. “I am pretty disappointed, it was unfortunate. No matter how much you scored, if you don’t win, your efforts are not counted, nothing really matters to me.
“I’m sure we will come back strong. Overall, there’s a room for improvement, I’m sure the guys have learnt from it and they will come back stronger. We have to do a lot of things right whether it’s batting or bowling, and come out all guns blazing.”
On the opposite side, South Africa will be hoping to ensure a fine start to a tour that will also include five One-Day internationals and four Test matches. It promises to be a grueling schedule away from home over the next two months, but batsman Farhaan Behardien believes the fact that the country has a different captain for each of the three formats will count in their favor.
“I think it's awesome,” he said, according to The Times Of India. “AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis all command a different kind of respect. I think it's nice to have new and fresh ideas in three different formats. It's quite fresh to have that captain's perspective for a particular series. Especially on a long 72-day tour to India, for one guy to have to lead the side towards the back-end. He has to take the press conferences, the meetings and the team selections. So it kind of takes the pressure away. And it keeps the players fresh as well, they have slightly different perspectives. And the entire team enjoys that fresh perspective.”
Du Plessis is the man currently in command, and, playing in the same surroundings they will encounter at next year’s World Cup, the T20 series is particularly useful preparation ahead of South Africa’s attempt to secure their first world title in any format. According to Behardien, it is the focus on that tournament that has led to the decision to experiment with One-Day captain De Villiers at the top of the batting order.
“I think so [he will open],” he said. “Especially with the conditions, because ABD has played here so many times. Everybody knows the first six overs are very important. I think we will be looking to exploit that with the World Cup in March in mind.”
Start time: 9:30 a.m. EDT
TV channel: Willow TV
Live stream: Willow.TV