Even as you are a top notch performer in the ODI or Test format, T20 is always a different game altogether. Cricket’s version of the popcorn contest could go either way. It could taste stale or crunchy on the same day and for the same side.
India are in great form. Purely on form, it’s hard to shatter the flying hopes of Harmanpreet’s team. Mandhana’s bat is oozing fire. No boundary rope is beyond the reach of her bat. Deepti Sharma is scoring well. Raj is consistent as ever. Where bowling stands, Jhulan’s confidence is on an all-time high. Shikha Pandey is strongly among the wickets. As Indian fans, you are confused: are the girls playing in South Africa? The scenes are unreal.
On the other hand, Harmanpreet’s opponents seem slightly listless. Neikerk, it has seemed hasn’t exactly got the unit together. Steyn, Luus and Chetty; their bats have seemingly gone silent. Not every time can one expect a Lee or Woolvardt to shoulder the responsibility of doing the bulwark of the side’s scoring.
It appears, Harmanpreet’s women- rallying hard and better than the usage of the phrase to depict a national West Indian movement- have pushed their Proteas counterparts to the edge of the precipice. One or two more steps of dull cricket and South Africa could fall of the edge. Did Niekerk see this coming? Importantly, did Kaur or Raj or Jhulan. However, while India would cling to their recent smashing success, South Africa would want to believe in the classic motto. Live for the day. Take each contest as it comes.
Truth be told, a singular loss or victory may not exactly smash hopes. But there’s all to play for. Especially since we have amidst us not one or two or three but hopefully an enthralling 5-match T20 series.
But before we allow conjecture and hope to overrule the proceedings in Protea-land, here’s an important perspective. South Africa would be slightly vary of their T20 record. Purely from a historical narrative, they aren’t the mightiest of maulers when it comes to T20s. From 71 games- ever since they began flexing shoulders in Cricket’s most unpredictable format- the victories have been few and hard to find. They’ve only won on 29 occasions, having lost 41 ties. Does that give us a clue to South Africa being nimble footed in Twenty-20’s?
On the other hand, much to the dismay of Niekerk, Harmanpreet’s side essay a much better record in the same version of the game. Having played only two games more than the Rainbow Nation, India have gathered a fantastic 37 victories, winning more than 50 per cent of the games they’ve played. If that cannot inspire Harmanpreet’s girls to strive for a rare moment in Protea-land then what will?
But will it be a cakewalk for India considering their South African counterparts haven’t been blue-blooded where runs and trickling of quick wickets are concerned? This, still is South Africa playing in South Africa. We’ve got amidst us a tantalising slot for the next few weeks and whether you consider this a hypocrisy or not – considering the T20s are going to be televised where the ODIs weren’t, indicating the salivating following of T20s as against the substantive standing of hardly contested limited overs game- it’s all to play for. And for both sides.