Temba Bavuma and his charges won’t only be up against a young and hungry Indian team keen to prove themselves in the first of five T20 matches in New Delhi on Thursday, they also face a challenge of a completely different kind: the heat.
While the South Africans are generally used to playing in hot conditions, temperatures in New Delhi at the moment are anything but normal. On Wednesday the mercury rose to 43 degrees Celsius and it is expected to be 38 on Thursday evening, 7pm, when the game gets under way at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
“We expected it to be hot, but not this hot,” Bavuma admitted.
“It is more bearable at night, thankfully. The key thing is for the guys to look after themselves during the day, to keep hydrated and to try stay as fresh as possible.
“One really doesn’t want to be tiring or becoming dehydrated, or develop cramps because of the heat, so it’s going to be crucial for all of us to prepare well now. Also, once the game starts, we have to stay in the battle … and hope our bodies keep up with everything.”
It’s a big series for the T20 side after the Test team and ODI squad won their respective series against India in January in South Africa.
“I think it’s an exciting series for both teams,” said Bavuma. “We got the better of India a few months ago, but we also know this will be a different side, with some fresh new faces, and they’ll have a point to prove.
“They’ll be highly motivated and we know it won’t be easy.”
India are missing a few key players, such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who are being rested.
“Their bowling attack will look a bit different, but I’m sure they’ll cover all the bases,” said Bavuma.
The Proteas skipper was expecting a good batting pitch, one he expected to improve as the hours ticked by.
“We played a practice game on a side wicket and it kept lower than what we’re used to, and it didn’t spin as much as it stopped,” he said.
“It got better to bat on as the night went on. We’ll assess the conditions as best we can before the time.”
The match starts at 3.30pm SA time.