GUWAHATI: It may be unsettled after an unexpected injury to Jasprit Bumrah but the Indian team would aim to continue its winning run and complete a rare home-series win against South Africa when the two sides clash in the second T20 International, here Sunday.
From the tranquility of Thiruvananthapuram, the Team India atmosphere, suddenly, wears a chaotic look -- much like the traffic of Guwahati, thrown out of gear in the midst of Durga Puja rush and construction of flyovers. Bumrah was expected to play a key role in Indian team’s campaign in the Australian conditions but his “back stress fracture” has ruled him out of the ICC flagship event, starting in three weeks’ time.
The ongoing series was originally planned as the final tune-up for Rahul Dravid’s team but Bumrah’s absence from the remaining two T20Is has now thrown more questions than answers. Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj have been added to the squad as injury replacements but they do not figure in the World Cup-bound squad, as of now. The seasoned Mohammad Shami, who is in the World Cup squad as stand-by, is not here for the South Africa series.
Shami has recovered from Covid-19 and has more chances of making it to Australia because of his experience Down Under.
For the SA series, the team has a fit-again Deepak Chahar who also figures in the World Cup standby.
Chahar (4-0-24-2) looked in fine mettle when he along with young left-arm pace gun Arshdeep Singh (4-0-32-3) reduced the Proteas to 9/5 inside the power-play on the Greenfield track as India took a 1-0 lead.
But swing will be out of equation in conditions Down Under and Chahar is more in the mould of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is in the World Cup XI along with Arshdeep.
Siraj, on the other hand, has struggled of late and has inspired very little confidence.
It’s a different debate altogether that Bhuvneshwar, who is short on experience -- three T20Is -- in Australia has started leaking runs and no longer holds the ace, as it was seen in the Asia Cup elimination last month.
Ditto for World Cup-bound Harshal Patel as it remains to be seen how the think-tank manages to arrange the jigsaw.
In the past, it has overcome bigger hurdles, like when in 2020-21 it won a series in Australia with its fifth or sixth choice bowlers.
Thankfully, it’s not the case in the spin department.
Axar Patel has been a revelation after Ravindra Jadeja’s knee surgery finally cemented his spot. From struggling to find a spot, Patel, a like-for-like replacement for the ace Indian all-rounder, has ticked all the boxes. He was the top wicket-taker -- eight wickets at an average of 7.87 -- in India’s 2-1 win over the world T20I champion in the last series here.
And against South Africa too he was at his miserly best -- 1/16 -- bowling in the middle-overs along with Ravichandran Ashwin as it’s a department that looks sorted.