Sa vs Ind, 2nd T20I – Tilak Vama – India batted well in ‘tough conditions’ but wet outfield played a role in defeat


A marked change in conditions after a sharp spell of rain in Gqeberha played its part in India’s defeat to South Africa in the second T20I on Tuesday, in Tilak Varma‘s opinion.

After being asked to bat first, India lost both their openers for ducks, but quick fifties from Rinku Singh and Suryakumar Yadav, along with Tilak’s 29 off 20 balls, helped them recover to 180 for 7 in 19.3 overs. The rain then forced a premature end to India’s innings and once play resumed, with South Africa chasing a revised target of 152 in 15 overs, the bowlers struggled to grip the ball in soggy conditions. South Africa shaved 67 runs off that target in the first five overs, thanks to Reeza Hendricks’ opening salvo, and eventually sealed the game with seven balls to spare.

“I feel in the powerplay, we gave a bit [of] extra runs, but after that we came back strongly,” Tilak said at his post-match press conference. “But due to the wet outfield, the ball was not gripping as we thought. But actually we batted well.

“It’s always good to play in South Africa; it’s quite challenging. We are well-prepared for these conditions, and we have actually batted well in a tough situation. The openers didn’t do too well today but after that Surya, myself and Rinku got good rhythm in the batting side and we scored well. But due to the rain and wet outfield…”

Tilak credited South Africa’s spinners Tabraiz Shamsi, who was picked ahead of Keshav Maharaj, and Aiden Markram for keeping India in check, despite Suryakumar and Rinku batting aggressively. In a shortened game, Shamsi proved the most economical bowler, returning 4-0-18-1.

“I feel the wicket was a bit on the slower side when we batted, especially with the new ball it was slightly seaming,” Tilak said. “After that, it was gripping a bit and spinning a bit when Markram and Shamsi were bowling. So the spell that Markram and Shamsi bowled went their way. I think it was a good spell from them. Otherwise, we could have reached 200 or 200-plus.”

Tuesday’s fixture was Tilak’s 14th T20I this year since he made his debut against West Indies in Tarouba in August. Only Suryakumar has played more T20Is (17) for India among batters this year, but despite the long run, Tilak isn’t a certainty yet in India’s XI for the 2024 T20 World Cup, with Shreyas Iyer also in the running for the No. 3 spot. Plus, the potential return of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya could leave Tilak on the sidelines. Tilak, though, drew confidence from having had the exposure to different conditions in his short T20I career.

“For every series, I was preparing to the conditions,” Tilak said. “If you see, West Indies was a bit on the slower side, and if you see Ireland, [the pitches] were similar to South Africa wickets, it was a bit bouncy and seaming a bit. We were preparing according to the [conditions] and we are India. So, it has been a great experience and great learning going through.”

The third and final T20I, which will be played at the Wanderers on Thursday, is set to present different conditions to India. While the ball doesn’t often travel high and far in coastal regions like Gqeberha or Durban, it tends to fly off the bat in Johannesburg, which means the margin for error is even smaller for the bowlers.

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