India’s tour of South Africa to go ahead

Amidst the threat of new COVID-19 mutant Omicron, BCCI and CSA have mutually agreed to play three Tests and three ODIs, with the T20I series postponed for a later date.

India lost the three-Test series 2-1 the last time it toured South Africa, in 2017-18.   -  AP

India’s tour of South Africa will go ahead, despite the threat of new COVID-19 mutant Omicron. However, keeping the current situation in mind, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have mutually agreed to play three Tests and as many ODIs. The T20I series will be held at a later date.

The decision has been taken after India was assured of a ‘water-tight’ bio-bubble in South Africa.

The national selection committee is expected to announce the squads in a day or two. As per the original plan, the team was expected to leave early on December 9 and undergo quarantine upon its arrival in South Africa. But now, it is believed that the departure will be delayed by at least a week, which means the schedule will be revised.

As per the original schedule, India was scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and T20 Internationals, starting on December 17 in Johannesburg. But Sportstar understands that now, the Test series will only begin on December 26.

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The players who are not part of the squad for the New Zealand series have already reached Mumbai and are in a quarantine. They will enter the bubble, before travelling to South Africa. It is believed that at least for the initial phase, the matches could be held behind closed doors.

“The CSA has assured us that the bubble is safe and that there will be no problem. Safety of our players and staff is paramount and there won’t be any compromise on that front,” a source in the BCCI said.

It is believed that the Board was waiting for an advisory from the government and so far, it has not received any communication on not going ahead with the tour.

The heavily-mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19 was identified last month in South Africa, and cases have spiked in the country significantly over the last few days. While several countries have imposed travel restrictions to South Africa, the Indian players, too, were awaiting clarity. But the successful completion of India A’s tour of South Africa has given enough confidence to the BCCI that the bubble is safe.

'Meeting of old friends'

In a statement, Cricket South Africa confirmed that the venues will be confirmed in the next 48 hours.

Pholetsi Moseki, acting Chief Executive Officer at Cricket South Africa said, “I would like to thank both the leadership of Cricket South Africa, as well as the leadership of the BCCI for working so tirelessly to make this tour a reality.  Even under the most uncertain times, the Boards kept the light of hope alive and kept us anticipating that this tour will indeed take place.”

“For us as CSA it is always a meeting of old friends when the Proteas take on India, but we will still present the fans with a compelling proposition and a great spectacle to watch.  I would like to take this opportunity to also thank our commercial partners and fans, as we promise them a great game of cricket ahead.”

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