India have opted for training sessions instead of a warm-up fixture in South Africa, in the lead-up to the first Test between the two teams from January 5 in Cape Town. A press release from Cricket South Africa on Monday announced India’s decision.
Although the BCCI did not give any reason officially for dropping the warm-up match, it is understood the request was made by the team management well in advance. The board was told that the team management preferred to focus on training on their own as soon as it landed in South Africa on December 28. A team official confirmed the development, but declined to elaborating further, saying it was an “internal matter”.
The Indian team management’s preoccupation with acclimatising the players to South African conditions even before they set foot in the country has been such that “lively green tops” were deemed the need of the hour through the Sri Lanka Test series at home.
There had been some confusion over the schedule for India’s tour of South Africa, with both boards holding discussions since the beginning of the year. In August, the BCCI had made it clear to CSA that India would not arrive until at least the last week of 2017, because their home series against Sri Lanka ends on December 24.
The BCCI wanted its players to take a short break before they departed for South Africa, ruling India out of the traditional Boxing Day Test, which South Africa will now play over four days against Zimbabwe. Eventually, even the New Year’s Test which is traditionally played from January 2 in Cape Town was pushed back to January 5. Incidentally, in September, an official involved in the discussions told ESPNcricinfo that India would “definitely play one practice match before the first Test”.
Following the Cape Town Test, two more will be played in Centurion and Johannesburg, followed by six ODIs and three T20s.