It is no secret that the year 2022 has been marked by an intense heatwave in New Delhi, India’s capital city, with signs of it visible as early as late March. With Delhi’s summer peaking in April, the temperature began to rise steadily, despite a brief appearance of unseasonal rain in late May.
South Africa arrive in the city on Thursday to begin their T20I series against India in this sweltering heat. But, as their captain Temba Bavuma put it, the conditions have been far too hot for their expectations of Delhi weather.
“We expected it to be hot, but not this hot. We are fortunate that the games are being played at night, when it’s bearable. During the day guys try to look after themselves as much as possible and drink a lot more water than the normal beer they drink at home. And just keep as mentally fresh as they can,” said Bavuma on the eve of the series opener.
Since the South African team arrived in India on June 2, the temperature has consistently reached 40 degrees Celsius or higher.
The temperature is expected to be 38 degrees when the teams take the field at Arun Jaitley Stadium on Thursday, when the highest temperature predicted for the day is 42 degrees. Despite the fact that the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts rain in Delhi on June 10, both teams would have left for the second match in Cuttack, Odisha.
“It’s not something we’re used to back home. Cramping, hydration, and fatigue are big things. We don’t have much time and you can only get used to it by actually playing in this type of heat, which we will be doing in competitive games. Like I said, hydrate yourself as much as you can, manage your energies as much as you can, try and recover as well as you can in and around the games, those become very important. Once you’re in the game you’ve got to try and stay in the battle, and hopefully, your body keeps up with everything,” added Bavuma.
His Indian counterpart and hometown boy, Rishabh Pant, who was appointed captain at the last minute after KL Rahul was ruled out of the series due to a right groyne injury, believes his team will take the heat in stride and focus solely on Thursday’s match.
“This is the first time we are playing in these kinds of conditions in India after a long time. But I think the heat plays its part. We might get dehydrated, tired early. But I think, it’s part and parcel of the game. We just have to keep improving, not think about the heat too much, focus on our game, tactics and let’s see how the game unfolds.”
India has been a happy hunting ground for the visitors, who are playing in a T20I series for the first time since the Men’s T20 World Cup last year. They won 2-0 here in 2015 and drew 1-1 in 2019. It will also be South Africa’s first meeting with India, following 2-1 and 3-0 victories in Tests and ODIs earlier this year.
Bavuma previously stated that they would like to achieve top-order consistency from the series against India. On the eve of the Delhi T20I, Bavuma hinted at a top-order partnership with wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
“That’s the area where we would like to create a lot more solidity, Quinton and myself partnering at the top and letting that extend to the World Cup. The guys in the middle order are quite settled. We’ve got a young guy like Tristan Stubbs, who I’m sure will get his opportunity somewhere along the line. We’d like to see how he can be of great value within the line-up. We’ll give guys opportunities in the games that we’ll play leading up to the World Cup so we can create consistency.”
Another key player in South Africa’s scheme of things, tearaway pacer Anrich Nortje, is gradually returning to cricketing action after a persistent hip injury kept him out of South Africa’s post-World Cup matches until the start of IPL 2022, where he appeared in six matches for Delhi Capitals, scalping nine wickets but looking far from his best self. Bavuma believes the right-arm pacer will find his rhythm against India.
“Anrich is a big player for us, an integral part of the bowling unit. When he joined the IPL, he had come off a huge layoff due to injury. But the more he plays, the closer he will get to the levels he is capable of. He is an important member of the team and we expect him to perform accordingly.”
(Inputs from IANS)