South Africa v India, Pro20, Johannesburg December 1, 2006

Overcast skies threaten match



'The Pro20 represents the best chance for India to salvage some pride before packing away the blue pajamas and bringing out the whites' © Getty Images

The weather, which ruined the opening one-day match of the series on November 19, is threatening to derail India's first-ever Pro20 game on Friday evening. Late on Thursday evening, there was a heavy thunderstorm, and though it didn't rain on Friday morning, the skies above were ominously grey.

Some would have said that they reflected the mood in the India camp after three heavy defeats that saw South Africa wrap up the one-day series with a game to play. With Rahul Dravid out until the first Test, and Munaf Patel struggling with an ankle injury, the Pro20 represents the best chance for India to salvage some pride before packing away the blue pajamas and bringing out the whites.

Apart from Dravid in the Cape Town game where he broke his finger, Sachin Tendulkar in Durban, and Irfan Pathan in the last game at Port Elizabeth, no batsman has shown signs of having come to grips with the conditions. And though South Africa are resting several keep players for the Pro20 game, the replacements are no slouches. The team practised on Friday morning - India were pencilled in for an afternoon session - and Graeme Smith was determined to ensure that India didn't go into the Test series with any shred of confidence.

The format probably suits the likes of Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and with so much attention having been focussed on the selection of the Test side over the past few days, India will probably be glad of this game, with all the attendant Bollywood trappings that the organisers have promised. But with the thunder rolling in, and the skies getting ever darker, another disappointing washout was the most likely outcome.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo