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2nd T20: India will face South Africa at Gqeberha

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In Men’s Cricket, India will take on hosts South Africa in their second T20 International at St. George’s Park in Gqeberha today. The match will start at 8:30 PM Indian Time.

Earlier, the first game of the three-match series was abandoned even without the toss due to rain in Durban on Sunday. The third T20 will be played on Thursday. Suryakumar Yadav is leading the Men in Blue while Aiden Markram is leading the South African squad. 

Can teams move past the blow of failing to win an ODI World Cup with success in mere T20Is? India’s men’s side have offered an answer to that question by claiming four victories in the five T20Is they played against Australia in the past not quite three weeks.

That followed the Australians finding a way to humble hitherto unbeaten India in the ODI World final in Ahmedabad on November 19. South Africa, who lost their semifinal against the Aussies at Eden Gardens three days earlier and haven’t played since, in part thanks to the incessant rain In Durban the other night, will start rebuilding on Tuesday when Gqeberha hosts the first of what’s now a two-match T20I series against India.

If this seems an abjectly modest way to reenter the fray, remember that both teams have only five T20Is to sort themselves out before another World Cup — the T20I version — looms in the Caribbean in June. If that seems a stretch of credulity across time, space and formats, consider that several members of South Africa’s XI for semifinal, and of India’s selection for the final, are in the current squads.

One of the South Africans is Gerald Coetzee, who sent down eight overs unchanged at the cost of 32 runs and was rewarded with the wickets of Steven Smith and Josh Inglis. At the end, his energy spent — even 23-year-olds aren’t immune to exhaustion — and his body cramping, he melted into a puddle of tears and sweat in David Miller’s brotherly embrace. How had Coetzee bounced back from bowling his heart out, and his lungs, in his preparation for the coming series?

“The world saw that he gave his all and some more,” Aiden Markram said. “It would have been tough for him to deal with — it was tough for everyone — but he has been good the last few days. He is back up for it and it’s been good to see. He loves bowling, he loves performing and he loves competing. For him, it’s a new series and he’s looking forward to what he can do for us.”

Had the Indians dealt with the shock of losing a game everyone, including millions of their compatriots, thought they would win? “It was a disappointment that will be difficult to move on from, but the show must go on,” Suryakumar Yadav said. “We had a nice T20I series against Australia. It was a different format, but we really enjoyed it and it was a big boost for the boys who came in and won that series for us.”

Still, a cruelty lingers around this scenario, as it does around Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj — the other players in the T20I squads who featured in their teams’ last matches at the World Cup.

As much as it might appear otherwise, high-calibre cricketers are as human as the rest of us. How, exactly, do you lift yourself from the floor so soon after being flattened while a global audience looked on? Perhaps we should be quietly grateful and relieved that, unlike big-name cricketers, we usually have the privilege of enduring our failures in private.

Squads:

India Squad: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav(c), Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Kishan, Mukesh Kumar, Washington Sundar, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Tilak Varma, Kuldeep Yadav

South Africa Squad: Reeza Hendricks, Matthew Breetzke, Tristan Stubbs, Aiden Markram(c), Heinrich Klaasen(w), David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Gerald Coetzee, Nandre Burger, Tabraiz Shamsi, Ottniel Baartman, Marco Jansen, Donovan Ferreira, Lizaad Williams

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