Virat Kohli and company touch down in South Africa for shortened tour

Virat Kohli India

The India senior men’s team led by Virat Kohli arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday and headed straight for their bio-secure base at the start of a curtailed tour.

India are set to play three Tests and three one-day internationals despite a surge in coronavirus cases in South Africa, while four planned T20 internationals have been dropped from the schedule.

“Indian team has arrived safely in Johannesburg,” tweeted Cricket South Africa board chairman Lawson Naidoo. “All set for Friendship Series starting on Boxing Day.”

CSA’s twitter account posted pictures of the players arriving and then boarding a bus which took them to a bio-secure location within easy reach of the venues of the first two Tests, Centurion and Johannesburg.

The first Test starts on December 26, the second on January 3.

India will then fly to Cape Town for the third Test starting on January 11 and will stay in the same accommodation in the city for the one-day games in Paarl and Cape Town.

The team flew into South Africa on a chartered aircraft and will be confined to their hotel and the cricket grounds.

South Africa’s Department of Health reported 26,976 new cases on Wednesday. However, CSA medical officer Shuaib Manjra is confident that the series will not be affected by the pandemic.

Dr Manjra said on Tuesday that new guidelines had been agreed by CSA and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

COVID-19 protocols

Because all the squad members are fully vaccinated, anyone testing positive during the tour will be able to isolate in their hotel room instead of having to leave the “bubble”, unless they have severe symptoms. Close contacts will be able to continue training.

The tour is of crucial importance to the cash-strapped host body, which announced a R221-million (about $13.8-million) loss at its annual meeting in October.

Although the T20 games were earlier this month cut from the original schedule, the India tour is still expected to bank CSA about R600-million (about $37.5-million) in broadcast fees and other revenue.

Plans were in place to allow up to 2000 fans to attend each day of the Test matches but the recent surge in infections may see those axed altogether.

The South African government currently allows a maximum of 2,000 people for outdoor gatherings, but revised regulations are expected to be announced soon following the recent surge.