South Africa will match India on boundaries when this week’s T20 series gets underway but the Proteas expect a challenge rivalling their last showdown with the hosts, skipper Temba Bavuma said yesterday.
The first of three matches will be in Thiruvananthapuram today, three months after the teams’ last 20-over tour finished in a frustrating 2-2 draw.
It will be the last time both teams play the format before next month’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
“Last time we were here, we were tested, we were challenged in all departments of our game and I think we answered it quite well,” Bavuma told reporters.
“You mentioned the boundary count. That’s always something we can expect here in India, hitting sixes and fours... But I expect a good, strong, competitive series.”
India recently edged out Australia 2-1 with home batsmen smashing 40 fours and 33 sixes in the T20 series despite bad conditions cutting one match to eight overs a side.
“I remember we played here, the A side,” Bavuma said.
“To be honest with you, I can’t remember too much about the wicket – generally a good wicket, as it always is here in India.
“I think this field is a little bit bigger than the other fields, so probably a lot more running, a lot more gaps being available, but I think all basics stay the same when batting in India.
“You want to get through the new ball and then try and get that momentum going into the innings,” he added.
Rohit Sharma’s team have lately won matches while chasing but their bowling has faltered in defending opposition totals.
The hosts’ batting coach Vikram Rathour said India had embraced a more aggressive approach in recent times and will try to do better when batting first.
“There is a visible shift in the way we are batting. The approach has changed. We are being more aggressive,” said former India batsman Rathour.
“We are playing with better strike rates and more intent and that is evident since the last World Cup,” he added.
“We are looking to get better at defending targets... I won’t be too harsh on my bowlers because they have been able to push the match till the last over every time when we are looking to defend.”
Shahbaz Ahmed and batsman Shreyas Iyer have been drafted into the India squad.
They replace injured Deepak Hooda and pace spearhead Mohamed Shami, who according to reports has not recovered from coronavirus.
India and South Africa will also play three one-day internationals from October 6 to 11.
Meanwhile top order bat Suryakumar Yadav was laid low by a sick bug on the morning of the deciding T20I against Australia in Hyderabad on Sunday.
But he didn’t let the illness come in the way of his participation in the match.
“I won’t just sit out saying it’s an illness. So do whatever, give me whatever pills or injection you want, but just get me ready for the game in the evening. Once you go into the match and wear that India jersey, the emotions are totally different,” he said in a report posted on cricinfo.com yesterday.
Eventually, Suryakumar not only took the field, but made a vital contribution in India’s series-clinching victory. His 36-ball 69 in a century stand with Virat Kohli helped India overcome a wobble at the top to chase down 187 in the final over.
South Africa’s captain Temba Bavuma attends a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram yesterday. (AFP)