Benoni, Dec 14 (): Late on Friday evening, the team management informed that India’s preparation match for the first Test against South Africa had been called off after suffering a setback when rain and a wet outfield prevented any play on the first day of a two-day match against a South African Invitation XI at Willowmoore Park, Benoni on Friday.
Grounds staff at Willowmoore Park insisted that more than 800 millimetres of rain in the past three weeks would not allow for sufficient preparation for Saturday’s proceedings. Umpires Adrian Holdstock and Shaun George and match referee Barry Lambson, later decided to end the damp squib entirely.
India’s plans to get adapted to the conditions ahead of the Test series took a massive hit. Instead, the Indian team practised all by themselves setting up nets around the main wicket and going through their drills, on the first day.
The Indian players did not look to be too much concerned with the situation as they practised nearly three hours – both in the middle and in the indoor facility at the Willowmoore Park. On Saturday again, the Indian team, however, will visit Benoni and have another practice session on ground.
India’s batsmen are to a great extent short of match practice to the conditions of South Africa. India were crushed in the first two one-day games and were bowled out for 217 and 146, with captain MS Dhoni the only man to hit a half-century. A rainstorm prevented India from batting in the third and final one-day international.
Originally, the Invitation XI match was about to start on Saturday but it was preponed by a day to avoid a clash with the funeral of former South African president Nelson Mandela on Sunday.
India will go into the first test against South Africa next week with no preparation time. India’s two-match test series in South Africa starts at The Wanderers in Johannesburg on Wednesday, with the second game at Kingsmead in Durban from December 26.