Virat Kohli, Quinton de Kock, India, South Africa
Quinton de Kock, Virat Kohli. (Photo: Twitter)

Cricket South Africa chairperson Lawson Naidoo has said that the cricket is excited to host India for the three-match Test and as many ODI games starting from December 26 in Centurion. Originally, the series was meant to start on December 17 but the matches were postponed due to the emergence of the new COVID19 variant- Omicron.

Previously, India A side toured the rainbow nation for the three-unofficial Tests from November 23 to December 9 and came back unharmed. This gave BCCI the confidence to go ahead with the tour although the four-match T20I, which was part of the tour, will be played on the new date.

India has been touring South Africa since 1992. They have managed to win only three Tests so far. In 2006, they won their first-ever game in the longest format in the first game of the series. Four years, MS Dhoni-led side beat the Graeme Smith-led side in the second game of the series.

Eight years later, the Virat Kohli-led side beat the Faf Du Plessis after losing the first two games. In ODIs, they won their first-ever bilateral against the Proteas in 2017-18 when they beat the Aiden Markram-led side by 5-1. In that series, the Men In Green and Gold didn’t have any answers to the leg-spin bowling duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

India Cricket Team
Image Source: Twitter

The 2021-22 series brings another opportunity for the Indian side to register their first-ever Test series win against South Africa on their home soil. Meanwhile, CSA chairperson Lawson Naidoo mentioned that the series will mark the 30th anniversary of the cricket relations between the two nations.

Lawson Naidoo feels the series will be closely contested

“As you said, this series will mark the 30th anniversary of cricketing relations between India and South Africa. When South Africa was readmitted to the ICC in 1991 the first tour that we went on was to India in 1991 and India then toured the following year for four Tests and seven ODIs in 1992-93. We are excited about the series, the T2OIs will be played later but we are confident that the upcoming series will be closely contested,” Naidoo told ANI.

Naidoo added that the CSA is fully equipped to ensure that the series goes ahead while protecting the players of both teams from the infection. He also told that the staff of the hotel in which the Indian team is staying won’t leave the hotel till the series is over and the players will be tested regularly.

India A Cricket Team
India A Cricket Team. Image Credits: BCCI

“We as CSA are fully equipped to ensure that the series goes ahead and we will ensure the protection of players from both India and South Africa. The series will be contested in a bio-secure environment. India will be travelling to South Africa via a charter flight. The hotel staff of the Indian team will be regularly tested for the virus, the hotel staff will be staying in the hotel only for the duration of the Indian team’s stay in South Africa. Once the Test series concludes, both India and South Africa squads will travel to Paarl through a chartered flight,” Naidoo added.

Naidoo further added that the CSA would like to thank the Board For Control Of Cricket In India (BCCI) for going ahead with the tour. He also appreciated the BCCI for not having certain terms and conditions like other countries have while touring the country which shows the great friendship between both nations.

“We were in constant touch with the BCCI. We would like to thank them for going on with the tour. We were also in touch with our own epidemiologist about the spread of COVID-19 and further measures that we need to take to ensure that the series goes ahead. We relayed the entire information to the BCCI and they were satisfied that the series could go ahead. Tests and ODIs will be played first, and T20Is will be played at a later stage.”

“Globally, we have grown accustomed to this. Teams have been playing cricket in bio-bubbles for more than a year now. Earlier this year, India was in the UK when there were elevated levels of transmission of the virus and the tour went ahead. Right now, Ashes is going on in Australia, we have seen how certain teams have different standards when it comes to touring countries, but we appreciate how BCCI did not fall into that trap and we really appreciate India touring South Africa and it shows how good the friendship is between both countries,” Naidoo further added.

KL Rahul, KL Rahul Corks
Spectators throw Wine Corks at KL Rahul. (Photo: Twitter)

The CSA Chairperson spoke about the allowance of spectators on the grounds. He said that the board will be guided on the matter by whatever decision the government takes keeping public safety in mind.

“The regulations at the moment state that only 2,000 spectators can be allowed inside the stadiums. We will be guided by whatever decision the government takes keeping public safety in mind. We will make every effort to ensure that the series is enjoyed by everyone, even if spectators are not allowed, there will be dynamic interaction with people who might watch the series on television. We will ensure that everyone enjoys this series.”

The first Test between India and South Africa will take place from December 26-30 at the SuperSport Park, Centurion; Second Test will take place from January 3-7, 2022, at the Wanderers, Johannesburg. The third Test will take place from January 11-15, 2022, at the Newlands, Cape Town.

The first ODI will take place on January 19, 2022, at Boland Park, Paarl; Second ODI will take place on January 21, 2022, at the same venue while the third ODI will take place on January 23, 2022, at Cape Town.