SA to play four-day game against Zimbabwe as India tour cut

CSA is hoping for Test status for the Boxing Day game against Zimbabwe, as the much-anticipated Test series against India has been reduced to three matches

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
India's tour to South Africa has been cut to three Tests from the original four, but will include an additional ODI, taking the total number of 50-over matches to six along with three T20s. As reported by ESPNcricinfo earlier in the week, India's tour will begin with a late New Year's Test which starts from January 5 at Newlands - three days later than the usual start for the festive fixture.
Although South Africa have lost out on a Boxing Day Test against India, they host Zimbabwe for a four-day day-night match in Port Elizabeth, starting from December 26. Cricket South Africa is awaiting ICC approval before labelling the Zimbabwe fixture a Test.
The confirmation of the India's tour comes after months of speculation about when the tour would be finalised and whether South Africa would be able to host a 10-Test summer. That will only be possible if the Zimbabwe match is allowed to go ahead as a Test; CSA is confident the ICC will give them the green light at their October meeting in Auckland.
For over a decade, the ICC has been hearing the case for four-day Tests and the discussion was taken up in earnest again this year. One of the key reasons for shortening Tests is to be able to save time on a tour and allow for more matches.
An insider told ESPNcricinfo that CSA understands if four-day Tests are approved, they will only be played when decided by an MoU between member countries and they are more likely to be played between the so-called younger teams in Test cricket or when a top-tier team plays a lower-ranked opponent. South Africa hope to be pioneers in the format.
After that match, they will turn their attention to India, who will arrive in South Africa on December 28, four days after their home series against Sri Lanka ends. India will have a two-day practice match in Paarl on December 30 and 31. India were understood to have wanted two warm-up matches, but there isn't enough time.
"The time constraints faced by India have forced us to reduce the Test matches to three, while increasing white-ball cricket to six ODIs and three T20I matches," Haroon Lorgat, the CSA CEO, said.
Cape Town will host the first Test while venues are yet to be confirmed for the following two. Given the large Indian support base in Durban, Kingsmead is highly likely to host one of the matches which will leave the Wanderers in Johannesburg or SuperSport Park in Centurion to host the remaining Test. While the Wanderers is regarded as South Africa's home of cricket, SuperSport Park may edge it out because it is the only one of the big five grounds that does not host Australia for a Test in March.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent