After a fiercely competitive series against defending champions Australia, in which India emerged victorious, the focus now shifts to another key series in the context of preparing for the T20 World Cup. India now lock horns against the South Africans, who have not lost a single limited-overs series on Indian soil in the last 6 years.
With India and South Africa in the same group as well, this will be a key test for both sides to test their combinations and get a much better idea of the inner nuances of the squad, enabling them to iron out the chinks in their Armor. However, while South Africa have already made their camp in Thiruvananthapuram, the venue of the first T20, India have been rocked by a double injury blow with just 2 days left in the series opener.
It has been revealed that pacer Mohammed Shami and batsman Deepak Hooda have not travelled with the rest of the side. While Shami has tested negative for the Covid infection that kept him out of action for the Australia series, he has still not recovered fully to guarantee his participation in the South Series. Hooda, on the other hand, who did not play in the Australia series, has suffered a back injury, which has ruled him out entirely from the series, as opposed to earlier, where he was only ruled out the first game.
It is now come to the attention that the injury is more than just a normal back spasm, which requires him to go to the NCA in Bengaluru, where he will be aided in his recovery. The injury comes at a rather innopportune moment for Hooda, who would have been desperate to make a mark in the South Africa Series,
In all this, the biggest winner has been Shreyas Iyer. The right hand batsman, who was drafted as a standby for the World Cup, has now been recalled into the side for the series. What was expected to be nothing more than an exposure for Iyer, has now increased in massive proportions, with a side in the 15 at stake for him.
If he does perform, then he could have a genuine chance of making it in the squad if Hooda does not recover from his injury in time. The Mumbai batter has been busy in his time away from the international set-up, having recently scored a 71 in the second innings of the Duleep Trophy final for the West Zone, which means he comes prepared.
With Hardik already tested, and the double injury blow for India, this could be a series that could have far more meaning for a few players, who will literally be playing for their lives in this series, and this bodes well for India as a whole . Let us see if the likes of Shreyas grab this opportunity to impress, or whether fate has other plans in store.