India's warm-up match against South African Invitational XI called off
The grounds staff said they could not get things ready in time at Sahara Willowmoore Park following more than 800 millimetres of rain in the last 21 days. The first Test between South Africa and India gets underway at the Wanderers on December 18.
The Indian batsmen's wish to get a decent hit out there in the middle and Zaheer Khan's chance to get into the groove were dealt a blow as their two-day practice match against the South African Invitational XI at Benoni had to be abandoned because of a wet outfield.
Instead, the Indian team ended up practicing all by themselves, setting up nets around the main wicket and going through their drills, on day one.
There was a chance that there could be some action on the second day, should there be no more rain. However, late in the evening, the team management informed that the match had been called off.
The Indian team, however, will visit Benoni on Saturday again and have another practice session at ground.
Earlier on Friday morning, reportedly, the Indian team management had a discussion with match officials, who gave them a go-ahead to practice on the central pitch, the one slated to be used for this game.
The Indian team went through their paces thereafter, setting up three groups to get the fielding and catching practice out of the way first. After that, the batsmen all padded up and took their turns batting to the Indian bowlers, as no net bowlers were made available today.
There was nothing unusual in the manner the Indian team conducted their nets. As has been the case over the years, a pair of batsmen entered the two adjacent nets.
Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, took turns in pairs. Then came Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, followed by skipper MS Dhoni and R Aswhin.
Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja only took throw downs in the meantime, taking their turns to bat only in the latter stages.
Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin were first among them, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pragyan Ojha followed shortly. Umesh Yadav bowled only in the latter stages of the session, while Jadeja didn't roll his arm over.
Does this mean a toss-up between Ajinkya Rahane and Pragyan Ojha for the first Test at Johannesburg, starting December 18? Or simply, were these the chosen players to feature in this tour game?
While that is anybody's guess, earlier, Ojha did express his expectation of making the Test XI.
"One of my big aims is to play outside the sub-continent and win games for my team. It is definitely something that I am looking forward to, having played a lot of cricket in the sub-continent," he said.
The left-arm spinner has 113 Test wickets in 24 Tests so far, and notably is yet to play a Test outside the sub-continent.
He wreaked havoc against the West Indies in the recently concluded Test series. He picked up ten wickets in Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test in Mumbai.