First India-South Africa Test to be on batting-friendly Centurion

India’s Test series in South Africa will commence at the Centurion on Boxing Day, Cricket South Africa has confirmed.

As per the revised itinerary, India will play three Tests and as many ODIs during their tour of South Africa, while the T20Is have been postponed following the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Johannesburg and Cape Town will host the second and third Test respectively, and the ODIs will be played at Paarl and Cape Town.

“It is a pleasure for Cricket South Africa (CSA) to confirm the updated schedule for the India men’s tour to South Africa. As announced over the weekend, the tour has been reduced from three series to two: the Test and One-Day International series, taking place from 26 December to 23 January 2022 across four venues, following successful engagement with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI),” CSA stated in a press release, adding: “The four-match T20 international series will be rescheduled for a more opportune time in the new year.”

The original schedule had three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is, and the first Test was to start at Johannesburg from December 17. Now the India team will leave for South Africa next week and upon reaching the country, the squad members will have to undergo a five-day quarantine.

The revised itinerary could work to India’s advantage, for the SuperSport Park at Centurion usually helps the batsmen. The last Test at the venue, in December 2020, was a high-scoring affair as well, with Sri Lanka posting 396 in their first innings and the hosts responding with 621 to win the game by an innings and 45 runs.

In 2018, however, India had lost the Centurion Test by 135 runs after folding up for 151 in their second innings. As Virat Kohli said after the second Test against New Zealand on Monday, the series in South Africa three years ago was the coming of age moment for this group in terms of acquiring a winning mentality in overseas tours. India’s win in the third Test at Johannesburg proved to be the catalyst.

“It’s a good challenge in South Africa; that was the start of our perseverance to build abroad. Australia was an accumulation of those efforts. We have the belief we can win anywhere. It’s a tough challenge, something we want to achieve, everyone is motivated,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation today.

The updated schedule:

December 26-30: 1st Test; SuperSport Park, Centurion

January 3-7: 2nd Test; Wanderers, Johannesburg

January 11-15: 3rd Test; Newlands, Cape Town

January 19: 1st ODI; Boland Park, Paarl

January 21: 2nd ODI; Boland Park, Paarl

January 23: 3rd ODI; Newlands, Cape Town

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