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India-SA ODI series unlikely to happen before Indian Premier League

Acting CEO of Cricket South Africa Jacques Faul at Newlands Cricket Ground on December 14.
Acting CEO of Cricket South Africa Jacques Faul at Newlands Cricket Ground on December 14.
Image: Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images

The Proteas could be thrust back into international action in the coming weeks to play their outstanding ODI series against India.

The intention is to stage the three-match series before the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) but as Cricket South Africa (CSA) acting CEO Dr Jacques Faul conceded on Wednesday‚ the odds are against this happening before September.

He said there is still uncertainty around the dates but confirmed that the Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) remains committed to the outstanding ODI series.

“We are still looking for a window to play them and playing them before the IPL was of course an opportunity‚ but I don’t think it’s going to happen before the IPL‚” Faul told TimesLIVE on Wednesday.

The IPL will be held from September 26 to November 8 in the United Arab Emirates but media reports in India say the Indian cricket board is under pressure from its stakeholders to have a few international games before the event‚ preferably against South Africa.

The two teams have not given sponsors and broadcasters value for their money in the last four months due to inaction caused by Covid-19.

India last played international cricket during the tour of New Zealand in February before their three-match home ODI series against the Proteas was shelved in early March.

The opening match in Dharamsala was washed out due to heavy rain while the second and third ODI could not take place after activities in the cricket-mad nation came to a halt as the coronavirus pandemic started to decimate sporting calendars across the world.

IPL franchises are expected to be reluctant to release their international players for an India-SA series before their event‚ but they have little choice as pressure from stakeholders mounts on both the BCCI and CSA to deliver matches on television.

Star India‚ the official broadcaster of the IPL‚ also holds the rights to the ODI series against the Proteas and Faul admitted that this presents a challenge on the planning side of things.

“The broadcaster pays the big money for it isn’t it. They need a bit of time to monetise it‚ they need to sell the content and you’ve got to give them time.”

Faul also confirmed that the ODI series would take place in the United Arab Emirates if it does go ahead.

“If it was to happen‚ that would have to be in the UAE.

"They (BCCI) have still indicated that they want to honour the ODI series and let’s see how it goes. We will also have to see how the Futures Tour Programme unfolds.”

India media reported that the BCCI and CSA have a few common stakeholders in a three-match Twenty20 series between India and the Proteas‚ which was originally scheduled in August despite the series not being part of the original Futures Tour Programme.

The Proteas were scheduled to tour the Caribbean to play two Tests and five Twenty20 Internationals from July 23 to August 16 but it was postponed due to Covid-19.

The West Indies wrapped up their tour of England on Tuesday with a defeat in the third and final Test to succumb 2-1.