Located on the west coast and 3934km by road from Sydney in the east, Perth is also three hours behind in terms of time-zone. Cricketers need to cope with a long flight besides adjusting their body-clocks. The vagaries of the weather have to be countered too.
With rain becoming a permanent shadow in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, a feathery drizzle often moisturised the turf at the Optus Stadium while the temperature on Saturday noon hovered around 14°C.
Later as Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma walked towards the centre square, they were clad in full-sleeved windcheaters while their hands were tucked into their pockets. The pitch had a mild green tinge, the coach crouched low and touched the surface while the India captain shadow-practised a glide towards the off-side.
After the duo left, the covers were back at a gargantuan venue in a laid-back city with its road signs warning motorists of ducks crossing from the nearby Swan River.
In this urban milieu infused with the slow-life, India will take on South Africa in a Super 12 Group 2 match on Sunday night. With two back-to-back victories, the Men in Blue have begun well while South Africa’s contest against Zimbabwe was washed out and against Bangladesh, Rilee Rossouw’s ton set the platform for a win.
Having hosted South Africa for three T20Is and three ODIs recently, India has a fair knowledge of the rival unit even if the conditions are different and the context is a global tournament with its attendant pressures unlike a bilateral skirmish.
Warm memory cues
However, there could be warm memory cues from the earlier battles. K.L. Rahul, who did well in the T20Is against South Africa may draw strength from that and it is no different for Rossouw, who struck a hundred at Indore.
With Pakistan and the Netherlands clashing before India and South Africa turn up, the think-tanks will also get enough live clues on what’s on offer from the 22 yards and accordingly tailor their playing elevens.
Holding the edge
With Group 1 enmeshed in the rains, clarity about the semifinalists may take time but in Group 2, India and South Africa hold the edge.
If the weather stays clear, Rohit and his counterpart Temba Bavuma get a chance to further their respective team’s chances for the last-four sweepstakes.
Against South Africa’s pace attack, the Indian batters need to stay firm and counter-punch. The same holds true for the rival willow-wielders.
Eternally chasing glory in ICC events, South Africa will bank on its big-game stars like Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada to sparkle.
India may have had it easy against the Netherlands in Sydney, but the latest opposition is of a higher mettle and if this hurdle can be handled, Rohit’s men can look ahead at the championship’s business-end.
Before that the grim clouds should vacate the skies in a city famous for its fast bowling history at the old WACA Stadium where men like Dennis Lillee and the West Indies spearheads fired their lightning bolts.
The teams (from):
India: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), K.L. Rahul (Vice-Capt.), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Deepak Hooda, R. Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel and Arshdeep Singh.
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (Capt.), Quinton de Kock (wk), Rilee Rossouw, Heinrich Klaasen, Reeza Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs and Marco Jansen.
Umpires: Langton Rusere and Richard Kettleborough; TV umpire: Richard Illingworth; Match referee: David Boon.
Match starts at 4.30 p.m. IST.