After the battering it was subjected to during the tour of Australia and the Asia Cup,the Indian team would look to make a fresh start before the IPL when it takes on an in-form South Africa in a one-off Twenty20 international here on Friday.
The match is being organised to commemorate 150 years of the settlement of the Indians in South Africa but its scheduling did raise a lot of eyebrows. The match is happening just after the Asia Cup,of which India was a part,and a few days after the Proteas return from New Zealand after a long tour,involving T20s,ODIs and Tests.
In a cramped international calendar,the game does seem like an oddity given that the Indians would be travelling all the way for just over four hours of cricket before getting busy with their respective IPL franchises. Only five days separate the match and the beginning of the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League. The Indians are heading into the match following the poor form the team has endured in the past few months. As if the disastrous Australian tour was not enough,India failed to qualify for the recently-concluded Asia Cup final as well,thanks to a shock defeat against hosts Bangladesh.
On the contrary,the Proteas are in good touch as they had an extremely successful tour against New Zealand. They won the Twenty20,one-day and the Test series against the injury-ravaged hosts.
South Africa though have retained only eight players from that tour in the Twenty20 squad. Almost all the seniors have been rested with the exception of all-rounder Jacques Kallis,who will be honoured after the match. India,though,are almost full strength,barring opener Virender Sehwag and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan.
All the players,who were part of their Asia Cup campaign,are in the squad except for veteran Sachin Tendulkar,who does not play international T20s. He has been replaced by the hard-hitting Robin Uthappa.
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