Rain spoils India's preparations

India’s plans to get acclimatized to the conditions ahead of the Test series took a massive hit as the two-day practice game against the South African Invitation XI at the Willowmoore Park, Benoni, was called off on Friday due to wet outfield.

After another round of heavy rains on Thursday night, the first day’s match was abandoned without a ball being bowled on the day.

The ground had received heavy rainfall over the last three weeks, 800 millimeter to be precise, and despite the best efforts of the ground staff to dry up the outfield, officials decided to call off the day’s play without a ball being bowled.

The Indians were banking heavily on this lone tour game to get further acclimatized to the conditions ahead of the first Test at the Wanderers, beginning on Wednesday.

The importance of this side game was magnified after Indian batsmen’s failure to go past 200 even once in the two one-dayers they got a chance to bat.

But the damage done to the outfield has been so massive that there were still visible wet spots near the mid-on and bowlers’ run-up areas despite the sun beating down on this morning.

Brendon Frost, the curator of Willowmoore Park, said the water table level has gone up high because of rain, making it tough to drain the water from outfield. “The problem is that the water table has gone too high here because of continuous rain over the last three weeks,” said Frost.

Usually, the South African grounds have excellent drainage facilities. But with the Willowmoore Park being just a second home to local side Titans, cricket has been played sporadically here, with the drainage system not in the same ranks as some other grounds like the Wanderers and the Kingsmead.

But the Indian players didn’t seem too much concerned with the situation as they batted a nearly three hours in net session – both in the middle and in the indoor facility at the Willowmoore Park. They will train at the same venue on Saturday as well.

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