Closer to Singapore and Jakarta than the nearest Australian city, Adelaide, Perth is more than three hours behind and 3,000km from Sydney, where the team faced the Netherlands on Thursday.
A nearly five-hour flight and airport transfer time meant the team now had less than 48 hours before their crucial game against South AfricaIndia’s last remaining big challenge in this group on what is expected to be a fast Perth Stadium pitch.
Fortunately, the team management took this into account where they arrived in Australia early, stayed in Perth for almost a week and played a few practice matches.
“The first phase of preparation when we arrived here in Perth was the most important one,” pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar said. “The strategy changes with each team as batsmen change, so we discussed and trained on the execution of plans. We knew if you lose a match first in a tournament, that too against a tough team like Pakistan, it would have been difficult to make a comeback.”
India may have set up camp in Perth with the Pakistan match in mind, but it is against South Africa that all the planning can come to fruition. The South African players also took the morning flight from Sydney earlier, where they demolished Bangladesh, and will face the same challenges in quickly acclimatising to completely different conditions.
With the focus once again shifting to India’s pace attack in Perth, Bhuvneshwar, for one, is happy with what he has gotten from the conditions in Australia so far.
“I never expected my deliveries to fluctuate so much because people said it doesn’t fluctuate much in Australia,” he said. “Arshdeep (Singh) and I have complemented each other so you can say I am happy. Arshdeep always asks about what kind of pitches will be offered and what kind of shots batsmen can play on these pitches. Considering this is her first T20 World Cuphe is doing very well.”
With Zimbabwe upsetting Pakistan here, Perth is where it all happens in the World Cup. Even though India have said they will not chop and change much, left-arm spinner Axar Patel is not too sure about India’s XI against the left-handed South African batting line-up.
The main issue, of course, is the negotiation of South Africa’s pace attack.
“We have to play normal fearless cricket and not think that we are facing Rabada and Nortje on a jump track,” said Axar. “We also have Bhuvi, Shami and Arshdeep. The main difference between the Indian and Australian wickets is bounce, so we will plan accordingly.”
The guy WACA and the new Perth Stadium is on either side of the Swan River, and there will be some choppy waters for India to negotiate this coming Sunday.