India were under a lot of pressure going into the three match ODI series against South Africa. They were coming off a 3-0 ODI and 2-0 drubbing in New Zealand; a win in the first ODI against South Africa would have eased the pressure. The first ODI was cancelled due to rain and not a ball was bowled.
BCCI Cancels SA ODI Series
The second ODI was scheduled to take place on March 15 as the BCCI had confirmed last week that it would still proceed with its ODI series but would host the matches in empty stadiums to reduce the risk of the corona virus – COVID-19!
There were no protests or social media posts from the Indian cricket team or the Proteas as they were ready to comply with the orders of the BCCI. However, they did not have to play in front of an empty stadium as the BCCI sent a surprise notice and informed the teams that they had decided to cancel the remaining two ODI matches.
The BCCI has confirmed that the ODI series against South Africa will be postponed to a later date and three ODI matches will take place even though technically the first ODI has been completed. The BCCI has confirmed that the ODI series will take place in 2020 but no date or month has been confirmed so far.
The cancellation of the ODI series against South Africa gives the Indian team a much needed break. However, they could be getting a long rest as the BCCI has also confirmed that they are postponing the IPL.
Truncated IPL Gives India Players More Rest
The IPL is the richest T20 domestic tournament in the world; the top cricketers in the world make millions during this 45 day window. The 2020 IPL was scheduled to start on March 28 but the BCCI has now postponed the tournament; April 15 is a possible start date.
The BCCI will be carefully monitoring the COVID-19 situation and as soon as things get better, they will go about scheduling what BCCI President Sourav Ganguly termed as truncated IPL. The BCCI will most likely reduce the number of games in the tournament and get each IPL franchise to play the other once instead of twice as per the usual schedule. The reduction in the number of games might allow the BCCI to get in a mini IPL and schedule an IPL final before June 5.
This lull in India’s cricketing calendar will certainly be a blessing in disguise; most of the senior players in the Indian cricket team have played non-stop cricket. While they will not go on record to express their relief, this break will give them some much needed downtime.
The workload of senior cricketers like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar has taken its toll; some of them succumbed to injuries while others faced a dip in form.
Domestic And Fringe India Players Will Hurt
This break will allow these senior players to recharge their batteries and refresh their minds. Given they take home big pay checks, they may not be too concerned to lose out on the IPL.
The same cannot be said of domestic players; they look forward to the IPL each year to boost their bank accounts. These are the players who also use it as a platform to make a name; and perhaps take a step closer to playing for India!