The Proteas coach and his team will be keeping a close eye on the clouds above with the forecast not particularly looking good for the second T20I at St George’s Park in Gqeberha on Tuesday.
India have travelled all the way to South Africa to knock around a cricket ball – white and red – only for the weather not to play ball.
The first T20 International between the Proteas and India was washed out on Sunday in Durban and that has left Rob Walter’s side with just five games to work it all out before next year’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.
Monday was no different up on the highveld when the first day of the South Africa A and India A four-day clash was abandoned in Potchefstroom.
And if that’s not enough to deal with, Walter and his team will again be keeping a close eye on the clouds above with the forecast not particularly looking good for the second T20I at St George’s Park in Gqeberha on Tuesday.
Neither team can control the weather, of course.
The only thing Walter can do is prepare his team as best as he can, especially the new caps that are likely to get an opportunity with only two matches remaining in the series now.
The Proteas will only have Gerald Coetzee and Marco Jansen available for the St George’s Park T20 before they get mentally ready for the looming Test series, and there is every likelihood that Nandre Burger and Ottniel Baartman could get their first taste of T20I action on Tuesday.
Baartman, in particular, will be keen on running out in familiar territory with the Oudtshoorn-born seamer playing at his adopted home ground after turning out for the Sunrisers Eastern Cape at St George’s Park last season.
Another local Eastern Cape product, Matthew Breetzke is also expected to get a run at the top of the order alongside Reeza Hendricks in a new-look Proteas T20 opening partnership.
The major crowd puller at St George’s Park is another firm favourite in Tristan Stubbs, though.
The 23-year-old recently celebrated a maiden call-up to the Proteas Test squad for the India series after a couple of mature batting performances for the South Africa A side in Sri Lanka, but it’s his explosive ball striking for the Warriors in the shortest format that initially had the locals streaming through the gates.
There are few batters in the country that can clear the boundary with such ease as Stubbs, with the dashing right-hander feasting on the spinners at St George’s Park in particular.
Stubbs will encounter some high-quality spinners in the form of India’s Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravi Bishnoi. A positive performance against the trio will go a long way in booking Stubbs’ place at next year’s ICC T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and the US.
Fortunately for Stubbs, he does have experience of facing the likes of Jadeja, Yadav and Bishnoi already, after spending two seasons with the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
Bishnoi, in particular, could prove to be a handful with the leg-break bowler recently rising to the No.1 ranking on the ICC T20 bowler’s rankings, having displaced Afghanistan superstar Rashid Khan in the process.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise in international cricket, having claimed nine wickets in five matches against Australia at 18.22 recently.
It follows on from his superb performances since debuting in February last year, which has seen him collect 34 wickets at 17.38 since.
The Proteas will not fear Bishnoi, though, having taken 69 runs for the loss of just one wicket the last time they faced him in an ODI, but like the weather at the moment around the country, everything can change in an instant.
Squads for St George’s Park
South Africa: Keshav Maharaj, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lizaad Williams, Heinrich Klaasen, Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, Matthew Breetzke, Tristan Stubbs, Gerald Coetzee, Aiden Markram (capt), Marco Jansen, Donovan Ferreira.
India: Ravindra Jadeja, Suryakumar Yadav (capt), Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Ishan Kishan, Jitesh Sharma, Rinku Singh, Mukesh Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Arshdeep Singh, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Ravi Bishnoi