Weather ruins India's only practice game
India's only practice match on this pocket-sized tour of South Africa has been called off on a warm and sunny day. Benoni has received more than 800mm rain over the last three weeks, which resulted in an unusually high water table, adding to the woes of one of the slower draining grounds in South Africa. Although the pitch was ready on the morning of the match, there were a few wet patches on the outfield. The first day's play was called off early in the morning but, later in the afternoon, the groundstaff indicated it was not possible to get the ground ready for the second day either.
Willowmoore Park in Benoni raced against time to get ready for the match, which was moved a day forward to avoid a clash with former president Nelson Mandela's funeral. However, a storm on the eve of the game put paid to the efforts of the groundsmen, who had erected a tent to prepare the pitch even as it rained.
If India were peeved they couldn't play despite warm sunshine, they didn't show it. They practised hard with Duncan Fletcher looking over the slips-catching practice before the batsmen moved into the net. Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja didn't bat for long, which could be a sign - albeit it's early to be looking for them - that India might play Ajinkya Rahane as the specialist batsman at Wanderers where the first Test will begin on the 18th.
The Indian team management seemed to be quite understanding of the situation. The last few weeks have brought unexpected rainfall to the Highveld. Short and sharp showers are the usual fare here, but this summer has brought less intense but more persistent rainfall to the region. The fate of the Benoni game was the subject of speculation even when the third ODI was on, but it couldn't have been easy to move an international team to another small venue given all the security requirements. It is not known if India asked for a change of venue or if CSA offered it.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo