India, South Africa could play T20I series in August

The CSA has had discussions with the BCCI to facilitate a three-match series, in a preferred 'bio-bubble' environment.

The T20I series between India and South Africa in March was aborted due to COVID-19. - R. V. MOORTHY

The Indian cricket team could travel to South Africa for a three-match T20I series in August.

Cricket South Africa (CSA)'s acting chief executive Jacques Faul told an online press interaction on Thursday that it held discussions with the BCCI on Wednesday and efforts were on to have a three-match series in August in a preferred 'bio-bubble' environment.

"We had a tele-conference with India yesterday and we are encouraged by their willingness to honour the agreement to play the T20I tournament in August, and in case it's postponed, may be later. It is encouraging. We had a very good discussion with them," Faul said.

CSA's Cricket Director Graeme Smith said the CSA was in talks with Cricket West Indies as well to see if they can have a series later in the year. 

"We have engaged with the BCCI. We have spoken to the West Indies on tour and programmes. We will be speaking to the [England and Wales Cricket Board] as well on the best practices. From my perspective, having engaged with various stakeholders, leadership in our sport is going to be the key," Smith said.

'Element of guesswork'

Later, replying to Sportstar's question, Smith said: "The commitment is still there to get the T20Is done. The goal is to keep the communication going and there is an element of guesswork. We are working towards having these games... Nothing is cast in stone, but we hope that the world is a better place, come August."

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However, even if India travels to South Africa, the matches will be played in empty stadiums. 

CSA's chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra said the matches could be played in a 'bio-bubble' environment to ensure that the players were safe. However, a lot would depend on the government's clearance. A senior BCCI official told this publication that they did have a conversation with the CSA and a final decision would be taken over the period of time.

"There are lot of factors involved. For now, the challenge is to resume the training session and if things improve by August and we obtain the clearances, then the tour could go ahead," the official said.

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Before India went into a lockdown, South Africa had travelled to India for a T20I series, which was called off midway.

South Africa is also having regular conversation with the West Indies board, to see if the series can happen, even at a neutral venue. “We are working with the West Indies board to try and find a window, post their tour of England, which would shift our dates,” Smith said.

“We are looking at all avenues. It seems to be Trinidad is their favoured venue from a playing and a health perspective. Or to a neutral ground. Or playing in South Africa. It’s a time for members to work closely together and try and find a way to get cricket going and to support each other.”

T20 World Cup next year?

Asked about his thoughts on the T20 World Cup, Smith said: “If it does get postponed, we're looking at February or March next year.”

"We are consistently looking at strategies for tours, what the FTP [Future Tours Programme] looks like, what our focus is going to be over the next period of time.

"We'll have to assess players on form, as was always going to be the case. When that event comes around, we will look at what the best squad is that we could possibly send to give us an opportunity to win the trophy,” the former captain said.

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