The fate of the bi-lateral Twenty20 International series between India and South Africa rests on the fifth and final encounter at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.
Honors are even at 2-2, after India recorded wins in the two previous outings. Fears that Bengaluru would be forced to host a dead rubber were wiped away by a strong comeback by the home team.
Persistent showers, however, could play spoilsport. The city is likely to witness heavy rain on Sunday night, which will test the SubAir drainage system at the stadium. Spectators can breathe easy knowing that the vacuum-powered suction system can get the ground ready for action 15 minutes after the rain stops.
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The evergreen Dinesh Karthik will hope for an uninterrupted night out. Karthik, the only active international cricketer from the team which featured in India’s first-ever T20I (versus South Africa at Johannesburg in December 2006), rolled back the years with a rollicking 27-ball 55 in the previous game at Rajkot on Friday. The match-winning knock earned him the ‘Player of the Match’ award, an honor he had won nearly 16 years ago in Johannesburg.
Fast bowler Avesh Khan will also enter this fixture on a high, having picked up four wickets at Rajkot. Avesh, who had gone wicketless in the first three matches, repaid the faith shown by the team management.
“There have been no changes to the eleven in the four games here. I would like to give credit to (Head Coach) Rahul (Dravid) sir. He gives a good opportunity to everyone, because you can’t drop or include a
player, or say that he is a good player based on performances in one or two games. He has given all the players enough games to play, so you have a good opportunity to prove yourself,” Avesh said in the post-match media interaction.
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The 25-year-old speedster is ready for a different challenge at Bengaluru. “In the last two matches, our bowling attack has executed all our plans. We were able to get wickets consistently – both in the PowerPlay and in the middle overs. We will strive to do the same and perform as a group on Sunday. You have no control over the pitch and conditions. Bengaluru will be different from Rajkot. The better you adapt to different conditions, the better your performance will be,” Avesh added.
South Africa must quickly address its recent batting woes, which have led to low scores of 131 and 87. Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen, the architects of the visitor’s victories in the opening two matches, have gone quiet. Captain Temba Bavuma, who retired hurt on Friday, is a doubtful starter.