“I feel there are a limited number of T20s going forward, before the T20 World Cup, but then we play 14 league matches in the IPL as well,” Suryakumar said on the eve of the series opener against South Africa in Durban. “And the players who have played in T20 internationals… they have played a lot of matches, they have a lot of experience under their belt. So, we don’t think there will be any issue or any problem in selecting the team because everyone knows their roles and responsibilities really well – [like] How to play in different situations.
Like India, South Africa have just six T20Is lined up ahead of the 2024 World Cup. As well as having the advantage of playing three T20Is in the Caribbean in the lead-up to the marquee tournament, South Africa can select players from the SA20, which will run from January 10 to 10 February.
“It’s strange,” team captain Aiden Markram said. “It’s not ideal to only have six games [before the T20 World Cup] But we’re fortunate that there’s still a lot of T20 cricket to go around, in terms of SA20 and the domestic T20 competition immediately afterwards. We hope everyone is fit and ready to join us when it comes to selecting your World Cup squad, which we will keep in mind. But the players will be playing T20 cricket and eventually we will be able to get a good measure of the best team we have that we can send to the World Cup.
“Look, the number that Rinku and Gite have been hitting, in the IPL and in the state teams, is the same number they got here,” Suryakumar said, “and they are being asked to do the same thing they did.” They do it for their countries and their privileges. [it’s] Nothing different. And that’s what they did too; Whenever we are in trouble in the T20 series [against Australia]They showed a lot of character, which is what the team asked for. All I told them was that whatever you think, think about the team first and then your personal accomplishments. This will make the situation better.”
Another area of potential concern for India is the lack of a reliable sixth bowling option with Hardik Pandya out injured. India did not use the part-time spin of Yashasvi Jaiswal or Tilak Varma in the T20I series at home against Australia, but Suryakumar was happy with the options available to him. Tilak bowled in five of the seven matches he played for Hyderabad in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India’s domestic T20 tournament.
“We have a sixth bowling option,” Suryakumar said. “There are a lot of people to play. When the time is right, you will see. Not just six, there can be seven or eight as well.”
None of the men in India’s current squad have played a T20I in South Africa, but Suryakumar has backed them to adapt to the conditions. At Kingsmead, the venue of the first T20I, the square boundaries are fairly short, and the pitches are more conducive to bowlers than spinners.
“I think the key to success playing on such wickets is to be yourself,” Suryakumar said. “The boys are really prepared – we’ve just come off a great T20 series, played on all the fast tracks in India and we’re really equipped for it. In terms of batting, the batsmen have batted on these types of wickets and I’m sure they will enjoy playing here in South Africa.”