Fans should manage their expectations of teams when it comes to the unpredictable nature of T20 cricket.
South Africa will aim to win the second T20I against India on Monday and thereby the series with a game to play, but how big an issue will it really be if the Proteas lose and inadvertently set up the third game as a decider?
Consistency is the most difficult thing to master when it comes to the shortest format of the game. That is why, no matter how well teams plan and prepare for a T20 World Cup, there are never any guarantees. The main reason for this is time. The game is so short that the slightest hiccup or moment of brilliance from the opposition means there is almost never enough time to recover and turn things around.
T20 cricket is a gamble, even more so than the other formats, so should we get upset when a team fails to win two or more games in a row? No, we shouldn’t. T20 cricket shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s there to make money, expand the game and provide instant entertainment.
It’s a ‘light’ format and should not be held in the same regard by fans as Test cricket.
South Africa won the first T20 last Friday by chasing 200, which in itself is a great achievement. However, the game was played on possibly the quickest wicket in India with proper bounce and carry and, to top it all, a very small field. JP Duminy also survived a plumb lbw appeal which, had it been given out, could have impacted the game dramatically.
Normally one would expect South Africa to do well on a surface like that, especially if you consider the batting power they have at their disposal.
That pitch was a once-off, and from hereon in the types of wickets the Proteas will encounter on this tour will differ quite dramatically. It will be more traditional Indian wickets where spin plays a big role in the outcome of matches.
‘We are not as high up from an altitude point so the ball won’t travel as far,’ Farhaan Behardien said. ‘We may have to run a lot more ones and twos.
‘From a bowler’s view we may need to protect certain pockets of the field because of the bigger dimensions. It is a lot warmer here so we will have to be smart with the way we manage our energy.’
The true test starts on Monday, but Faf du Plessis and his players will have the confidence to believe they can win again and take the series.
But if they don’t, it’s not because they are suddenly a bad team again. It’s just that they made the best out of the favourable conditions they faced in Dharamsala and now have to adapt all over again against a team who has, in the words of Du Plessis, ‘the best spinner in the world’ in R Ashwin.