India tour of South Africa to begin in first week of January in Cape Town
Johannesburg: The Indian cricket team will start its new year with a tour to South Africa, which is likely to commence on 5 or 6 January in Cape Town.
According to ‘ESPNCricinfo’, both the countries’ cricket boards—Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI)—will be finalising the dates of the matches in the next few days.
Despite holding discussions since the beginning of the year, CSA and BCCI are yet to finalise the schedule. As per the ICC’s Future Tours Programme, the tour will have a four-Test series, three One-day Internationals and three T20 internationals.
The BCCI had earlier made it clear that the Indian team would not arrive in South Africa until the last week of this year as their home series against Sri Lanka would end only on 24 December.
The Indian Cricket Board wants its players to take a short break before they depart for South Africa. They had also insisted on preparation time for the team ahead of a big series and requested to play at least one warm-up match.
Traditionally, the New Year’s Test has been played at Newlands from 2 January.
CSA was keen on having the first Test from 4 January to ensure maximum gate money, considering the match is usually a sell-out during the holiday week in South Africa.
“India are now expected to land in the last few days of December and would definitely play one practice match before the first Test,” an official involved in the discussions was quoted as saying.
Discussions between CSA and BCCI got complicated because the Indian board was not impressed with South Africa finalising the schedule for the Australian series, scheduled to start on 1 March.
But the 1 March start of South Africa-Australia series would make the time frame for the India tour a tight one.
“Now they (CSA) are trying to fit in everything within a short window,” the official said.
Immediately after the South Africa tour, India would travel to Sri Lanka to play a Twenty20 tri-series before returning home for the Indian Premier League (IPL).