SAT TOUR OF INDIA, 2022
“We expected it to be hot, but not so hot” © AFP
South Africans and sunshine are hardly strangers, but Delhi has dazzled, parched and parched Temba Bavuma and his team for their run of five T20Is against India, which begins in the capital on Thursday.
“We expected it to be warm, but not that hot,” Bavuma told a news conference on Wednesday, when the temperature reached 46 degrees Celsius. “We are lucky that the games are played at night, when it is tolerable. During the day, guys try to take care of themselves as much as possible and drink a lot more water than the normal beer they drink at home. [They’re trying] to stay mentally as fresh as possible.”
The heat had already risen above 40 degrees when South Africans arrived at 9:30 a.m. (IST) on Thursday. It rose to 47 in the hours that followed. Since then, the recorded high has been no lower than 45. The forecast says it will be 43 when the teams take the field at 7 p.m. (IST) on Thursday, when 47 is the apex.
A little bit of rain is forecast for Saturday – 0.1 millimeters, or not enough to fill a thimble, but so is 46. By then, the teams will have traveled 1,260 kilometers east for Sunday’s game in Cuttack – where the temperature will peak at 40 degrees on race day, the lowest there has been this month. It is set to rise to 48 on Saturday, when the players will complete their preparations for the second T20I. And to think that Bavuma and his players flew out of Johannesburg with a mercury level of 19. Compared to Wednesday’s heat wave, that is 27 degrees separation.
“It’s not something we’re used to at home,” Bavuma said. “Cramping, hydration and fatigue are big things. You can only get used to them by really playing in this kind of heat.” His advice to his players was to “hydrate yourself as much as possible, control your energies as much as possible and recover as best you can in and around the games.” Because, hot or not, there’s a game to be won: “Once you’re in the game, you have to try to stay in the fight, and hopefully your body will keep up.”
But the visitors had familiarized themselves with other elements of the conditions: “We were allowed to play an exhibition game on one of the side wickets. [The bounce] was a little lower than what we’re used to at home, but it didn’t really spin more than it stopped. It felt like it got better to keep going as the night went on.”
The series will mark the first time the teams have met since January, when South Africa won a home ODI series 3-0 after rallied to lose the first of three intensely contested tests for that rubber 2-1. to claim.
South Africa have won and drawn their two previous bilateral T20I series in India and appear to have a good chance of increasing their successes. They have arrived with a full squad but India has reassured Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah, who have played in all their teams’ IPL matches. On Wednesday, KL Rahul – who had replaced Sharma as captain – and Kuldeep Yadav were added to an injury list that already included Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar and Suryakumar Yadav. Rishabh Pant will now lead the home side.
But Bavuma knew he wasn’t in Kansas anymore: “A few months ago we were able to beat India, but these are different looking guys. There are a lot of younger, fresher faces on the team, guys with a big point to prove, guys who want to claim their position in the Indian team. We won’t expect anything easy. We don’t think everything will happen here the same as in South Africa. We know we have to play good cricket.”
And drink lots of water. No beer.