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One-off tie a dress rehearsal for Indians

The Opening Ceremony of the Indian Premier League is scheduled for April 4, but for all the Indian stars the one-off Twenty20 international against South Africa at the famous Bull Ring will act as a dress rehearsal for the high octane T20 league. Match Reckoner | T-20 international matches record

cricket Updated: Mar 30, 2012 02:33 IST
HT Correspondent & Agencies

The Opening Ceremony of the Indian Premier League is scheduled for April 4, but for all the Indian stars the one-off Twenty20 international against South Africa at the famous Bull Ring will act as a dress rehearsal for the high octane T20 league.


The match is being organised to commemorate 150 years of the settlement of the Indians in South Africa but its scheduling did raise a lot of eyebrows.

The South Africans arrived home from their tour of New Zealand just two days before the game, forcing their selectors to rest the XI playing the final Test in Wellington. The decision was taken as the SA squad travelled halfway across the world, including a 10-hour time difference, as a result the players were not in any condition to play an international game of cricket. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/3/30_03_12-metro19.jpg

The game does seem like an oddity for the Indians too as they have travelled all the way for just over four hours of slam bang action. Only five days separate the match and the beginning of the fifth edition of the IPL.

Strong test
Event though, SA have not selected the players who were part of the Wellington Test, they are still a strong side and the Indian T20 specialists can expect to be tested to the fullest.

All-rounder Jacques Kallis is the biggest name in the home team's line-up. Captained by Johan Botha, SA has some proven performers in the shortest form of the game like Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Rusty Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne van Wyk. India go into the contest at the back of a disappointing overseas run. They failed to make the final of the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and tri-series in Australia. The Indian Test side was whitewashed 4-0 in England and Australia as well.

It's not just the conditions, the South African side will also have the upperhand as they have in their corner, former India coach Gary Kirsten. He knows the current Indian players' game inside out. The South Africa coach said the game was going to be difficult for his players, as they would have just had a long flight from New Zealand. "Its going to be tough but I am quite excited. We've got a couple of new guys to have a look at there," he said. "It's difficult, it's the end of the season and it's a one-off game, but I think we are going to keep it pretty lighthearted, if we can stay awake."

The Proteas are in good touch as they had an extremely successful tour against New Zealand. They won the T20, one-day and Test series. India, though, are almost at full strength. All the players, who were part of their Asia Cup campaign, are in the squad except for Tendulkar. He has been replaced by Robin Uthappa. The preparation plans for the IPL upset due to the SA game, for MS Dhoni & Co the T20 outing will be an opportunity to get into the IPL mood.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/3/30_03_12-metro19c.jpg