A practice T20 match to kick off series

The packed calendar, predominantly due to the proliferation of limited-over matches, rarely gives cricket tours the scope to accommodate proper warm-up matches. Now, it is more of a luxury than a necessity, with cricketers being forced to acclimatise and adapt to foreign conditions almost instantly.

South African members during a net practice session at the Palam ground.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Indians in practice.   -  PTI

Times have changed. So have cricket tours. Till some years ago, warm-up games, consisting of a few three-day or four-day matches, against a visiting team, used to be the norm prior to a full Test series. Not anymore.

The packed calendar, predominantly due to the proliferation of limited-over matches, rarely gives cricket tours the scope to accommodate proper warm-up matches. Now, it is more of a luxury than a necessity, with cricketers being forced to acclimatise and adapt to foreign conditions almost instantly.

South Africa’s 71-day tour of India, starting with a T20 practice match versus the Board President’s XI at the Palam Ground here on Tuesday, is an example of the changing times. The visiting side will start with their first-ever bilateral T20 series in India and get used to the conditions before switching to the five-match one-day series and then the four Tests.

The uncertainty arising out of the internal squabble among the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) officials forced the shifting of the warm-up game from the Ferozeshah Kotla to the low-profile Palam Ground.

But the change should not matter much to the touring team as it does not disturb the schedule and significantly reduces their travelling time to the venue. The familiarity of some of the South Africans, such as J. P. Duminy, Imran Tahir and Quinton de Kock, with the scenic ground will be a matter of comfort for the Faf du Plessis-led side. They have trained here as part of the Delhi Daredevils side.

Hashim Amla, who has some personal commitments, and Albie Morkel, who was named as a last-minute replacement for David Wiese, will join the squad later.

It should be a good precursor for the Proteas before the first T20 international commences at the more scenic Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) ground at Dharamshala on October 2.

Mandeep Singh, the young Punjab middle-order batsman, who will lead the Indian side, has finally earned attention for his consistent showing in domestic cricket as well as in the Indian Premier League.

The Indian side, comprising only the up-and-coming players, showcases the bench strength of the country. Anyone who catches the eyes of the selectors here will certainly do a world of good to his future.

Both the sides will have the flexibility to field all their available players.

The teams (from):

Board President’s XI: Mayank Agarwal, Manan Vohra, Manish Pandey, Mandeep Singh (capt), Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson (wk), Hardik Pandya, Rishi Dhawan, Anureet Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal, Pawan Negi and Kuldeep Yadav.

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Khaya Zondo, Kyle Abbott, Farhan Behardien, Marchant de Lange, Jean-Paul Duminy, Eddie Leie and Kagiso Rabada.

Match starts at 11 a.m.