Match Centre


Scorer: @Thilak_Rama | Commentator: Sreshth Shah

A sad set of faces at the Dharamsala ground, and they look very disappointed. But the weather simply did not relent today. So we need to wait for the start of this India-South Africa ODI series. We move to Lucknow next for the 2nd ODI on Sunday. Hopefully things will stay dry there over the weekend. Hope you enjoyed ESPNcricinfo's coverage of this match. See you soon for more.

5.20pm Still drizzling and therefore the match is abandoned

Another big coronavirus news from the world of sport has just come in as La Liga has also been suspended after Real Madrid players were quarantined.

5.18pm still waiting, folks. But we should have an update in two minutes.

5.00 pm: The ground is still under the covers. We're expecting a fresh update in a while, and I don't think it's going to be good news...

Shyam: "IPL taking place behind closed doors may strange for the players, but a very wise decision. It is total chaos here in Europe and you dont want that in India. at the same time, cancelling the tournament will be a huge void. so it is good to go ahead with this plan"

4.34 pm: In case you missed our big news: IPL 2020 likely to take place behind closed doors. Nagraj Gollapudi has got some additional info too - "In the event the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing gathering of the people, including spectators" - the Indian government has stressed this in its advisory to all sporting federations in India, including BCCI.

4.20 pm: The update from Dharamsala is that the drizzle has not stopped. The ground is still completely under the covers. And we're getting closer to that 6.30 pm cut-off time.

Meanwhile, the list of sporting events cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus keeps getting longer, with the NBA the latest to suspend the season after Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.

4.10 pm: Sticking with #TheTest, there is one particular segment when emotions are raw and confronted - it's the aftermath of the Headingley Test after Ben Stokes's incredible heist. Justin Langer and Tim Paine had a bit of a confrontation - Brettig has captured it here.

Rahman: "Saurabh, since we do not have any cricket to talk about, can we all talk about #TheTest documentary? Simply amazing and inspiring!" - It is indeed stunning Rahman. Here is Dan Brettig's review of a documentary that takes you inside Australia's closed doors.

ShivaRam: "Hey Saurabh. Just a quick querry. Closed door means no spectators in the stadium, right?" - yes. Will be quite something to watch an IPL match without a crowd...

Celine: "Hi Saurabh, if the current Ranji between Saurashtra and Bengal ends in a draw, will it be the former who will lift the Trophy?" - if it ends in a draw (it looks likely to), then the team that has the first-innings lead will be the winner. Who that team will be, we still don't know. Bengal are putting up a terrific fight after Saurashtra piled on a big score. You can get the full flavour of the final on our Ranji Live Blog, with Sid Monga and Shashank Kishore.

3.45 pm: Meanwhile, not looking good in Dharamsala... The rain's still pouring down and chances of play are slimmer than ever.

3.30 pm: BIG news coming in: IPL 2020 likely to take place behind closed doors.

Danny: "6:30 pm to start the game or for toss??" - to start the game.

Partha: "Just noticed that there are 2 Jadejas (Vishvaraj and Dharmendrasinh) already in the Saurashtra squad." - that's right Partha. Interestingly, Dharmendrasinh is also a left-arm spinner who is a useful lower order bat. And he fields at point too! Vishvaraj is a top-order batsman.

Zebu: "I planned my day at work carefully: Watch cricket. What am I supposed to do now?" - easy. Read ESPNcricinfo!

Cheeky vibes: "Can't they simply decide the winner based on the number of boundaries hit in their respective last games?" - living up to your name I see, monsieur cheeky vibes.

Vinod Rajpal: "Hey Saurabh : Are we now into the 'overs to get reduced' territory ??" - well into that territory, as I understand. And the cut-off for a 20-over match is 6.30 pm local time.

3.06 pm: While the rain is keeping us all waiting, there is a fascinating tussle going on in the Ranji Trophy final, between Saurashtra and Bengal. Wonder if Ravindra Jadeja, in India's dressing room right now, has tuned in to see how his Saurashtra mates are doing. Live scoring here.

Praveen B: "Last year, when SA traveled here, the 1st T20 match was in Dharamsala and that was abandoned due to rain. Hope we don't have a replica of that!" - my gut feel says we are heading in that direction. But let's see...

2.55pm Drizzle getting heavier. Full ground covered again

Mohd Irshad: "Why people regard IPL performances so high? IPL is good but if choose guys purly based on IPL then Yuvi would never get into any team, and i am not talking about his recent performances but since 2008. And then there good IPL players who never showed the same talent at top level cricket. So my point is consider a player based on for how long a player doing good in domestic circuit and you can consider some weight from IPL too as its still world class tournament."

Paul: "Regarding AB's inclusion: I think it is a must. AB left because of a corrupt baord of directors that were ruining the fabric of cricket in SA through theft and bad management. CSA lost it's major sponsors because of this. They now have the right guys in there and they want their major sponsors to return. AB has to be part of that plan."

2.50pm Short update: The crowd's hanging around as the floodlights come on. The covers are still on the ground, while the super soppers chug over them. It's drizzling very very lightly

Zander: "Big AB fan. But SA has a tendency to pick playersin World Cups who are not in form. If he plays exceptional in IPL I say pick him bit if he doesn't, move on and Bouch should make it clear he is not in the picture. We had the exact same issue with 50 over world cup. The focus was on AB not on the team as a whole. I believe he has had his chances to win us one. Give someone else a chance. "

Dhanamurugan: "BCCI have to identify the cities doesn't get more rain in a year.. like Chennai is the perfect place now to have ODI, 99.99% no rain in this period."

Umang Kedia: "I think rain is good. Convert this to a 20 over game and everyone is happy. " -- I'd agree with you, given it's the year of the T20 World Cup, but with thunderstorms scheduled at around 5pm local, it's unlikely that we'll have a 20-over shootout either. It's just a doomed day for Dharamsala fans. Nonetheless, we keep our fingers and toes crossed for some cricket

Sunny: "@Andre Smith In that case, they should re-toss if it rains after the toss"

2.30pm India were troubled by the short ball in New Zealand. Do you think it was a one-off or is short ball abroad still a problem for India's batsmen? This is what Ajinkya Rahane has to say

Andre Smith: "I think one thing which wasn't mentioned re the toss is that you want the toss right before the game starts as changed weather conditions might affect whether you want to bowl or bat first."

Sameer Kolhapur: "What time does the overs start to reduce? Anyway, I think I should sleep. It's almost 2am!" -- If play starts after 2.30pm local (which it is destined to be), then we'll have a reduced game

Amogh: "Regardless whether all covers are off or not, why they cant have toss anyway? just have the toss and start playing immediately once ground conditions are perfect. Does match abandoned after toss and abandoned without toss have different meanings? " -- The toss must happen with the pitch in full view, which can't happen if the covers are on. And yes, the toss is a bit crucial even if games are abandoned. A toss means the game is counted under 'player stats' while no toss means the match does not get added to one's stats.

Mustafa Moudi: "With covers already off, why cat they just have the Toss now ?? Finish the Toss and by the time the Teams prepares for the Match, the rain might completely stop and the match could be comfortably started !! " - all the covers aren't yet off.

2.06 pm: Some covers are coming off, so that's a bit of bright news.

bhaskar: "@ CraigV Your issues are valid. Whether SA want him due to those issues only they can say. But they definitely NEED him, like any team would."

1.56 pm: While we're waiting for the rain to abate, why don't you check out what the main talking points of this ODI series are: Deiva Muthu has compiled them into one snappy piece for you here.

Shiv: "Why to have a bilateral ODI series instead of a T20 series? Aren't we in the T20 World Cup year? I feel these ODi's are not relevant this year at least. "

CraigV: "Not sure we need AB...he has shown no public interest in playing for the Proteas of late...and who do you then leave out so he can play one last WC?"

Thanks Sreshth. This might be among the few cricket matches where we're thankful for rain. It's preventing a mass gathering after all.

1.42pm With the ground still fully covered, here's the first change in commentary. Let's welcome Saurabh Somani who will keep the cricket + coronavirus conversation going

A reply to all those asking about Coronavirus, this series and the IPL: The Indian government has already issued an advisory asking people to "avoid" mass gatherings, which events such as the IPL and this ODI series fall under. Here's all that we know

Deepak Gupta: "@Shreyas - Y u guys r forgetting that both openers were new and not our regulars Sharma ji and Gabbar. In a ODI game, Gabbar and Rohit give starts, solidity, calmness and dominance in the match from ball 1 which both Shaw and Mayank just cudnot. So pls stop unwarranted criticism. 3 bad games doesn't turn us into losers in a fortnight."

1.33pm Over in Rajkot, Wriddhiman Saha is digging in to show everyone he can bat. He's set himself up with a half-century as Bengal are aiming to break a 30-year itch in the Ranji Trophy final. This game means the world to people from different walks of life: From Barasat to Durgapur, Sasaram to Banagaon, Kolkata to Cape Town. Shashank Kishore is there and here he writes about the 'Great Bengal dream'.

Shreyas: "@Armin, It is not only about loss. It is about how they lost. When India lost in England & SA some time back, they were not criticized like this. They fought hard in those tours. In NZ they were bad in all departments and hence the criticism."

1.30pm Another interesting thing in focus will be how South Africa's Quinton de Kock manages his troops. It's not often (and I challenge you to name a few more) that a player is your regular captain, your opening batsman as well as your wicketkeeper. Does he have the potential to juggle all three roles? My colleague Firdose Moonda dissects

Danish: "When Amir returned to the Pakistan side after 5+ cricketless years of absence, people were all over him when teams used to see him off and he wasn't getting wickets. I think Bumrah was not even out for 6 months due to his back injury and we can see the change. Goes to show how tough it is and how harsh the criticism on Amir was."

1.25pm In our video preview, Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar explains why Hardik Pandya's availability is so crucial for India's balance. Check it out

1.20pm Quick update: it's drizzling so the 1.15pm scheduled inspection hasn't happened either

Rahul Sargam: "Well I personally believe that Bhuvneshwar is not anymore the same Bhuvi that he was earlier, lacks pace and confidence as well. Remember few years ago he was the key bowler of our team (like currently Bumrah is). but he is not the same ones, doesn't swing both the sides and doesn't handle pressure like earlier, I remember how badly Pant hit him in the IPL. Saini is all set to replace him and he is a future. shouldn't water the tree which is not gonna grow. "

Honestly, though, is it fair to expect brilliance from Bhuvneshwar as soon as he wears the India jersey? It will be a very crucial series for Bhuvneshwar's future prospects, given the number of bowlers knocking on the white-ball door, but my colleague Deiva Muthu believes expectations from him should be tempered, as it should, with anybody returning from a long break from cricket. What are your thoughts?

1.13pm Bhuvneshwar, who is returning from injury, and is expected to start today, faced the media in Dharamsala yesterday, but there were more questions about India's coronavirus precautions than the series itself. Here's how team India are staying safe... And while we type this, the covers on the pitch are scooting back on. Maybe there's a bit of drizzle in the air.

Armin: "In that sense Australia, the so called best team in the world, lost 3-0 to S.A away from home. S.A lost to Eng at home. Eng lost to Aus at home.NZ lost to Aus. No team is perfect but it's we Indians who point fingers at our team"

1.05pm Were you as surprised as me... when Brian Lara recently revealed who his favourite international cricketer was? On the other hand, Jonty Rhodes believes South Africa must 'do anything to win' the upcoming T20 World Cup, even if it means bringing back AB de Villiers

Mustafa Moudi: "@Manish: you are complaining as if they have never been appreciated for playing good. Its part and parcel of the game, you play good and you will be appreciated, you play bad and you would be criticized. Learn to accept it !! "

Manish: "Team India will be criticized even if they perform this series (flat-track bullies). If they don't, well, criticism just continues from where it was left off in NZ series."

12.48pm Toss delayed due to wet conditions. Inspection at 1:15pm local

Pitch report: "Looks like a pitch where India will feel 'aha, this looks like our kind of pitch,'" Sunil Gavaskar says. "Will be a bit of grip for wristspinners, although fingerspinners may not have it easy. The odd ball will stay low too."

Nagendra: "Very much excited to see Pandya and Bhuvi on field. Not expecting Much from both of them But a Promising return" -- That's right. Both will be looking to hit the ground running right away, while Bumrah will look to get among the wickets after going empty handed in the ODIs against New Zealand

12.32pm Hello and welcome to ESPNcricinfo's coverage of India v South Africa. Fears over the spreading of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) have sent sporting tournaments around the world scampering: the Serie A and the NBA are suspended, the La Liga and some Champions League football games are being played under closed doors. The road safety world series being played in Mumbai will now be contested with zero fans too, but this series - thus far - will be in front of a crowd.

Sidharth Monga says that there are people lining up outside the ground already and some have even taken their seats. The weather is cloudy, and it rained till 3 am this morning. Since then, though, it's been dry, although the sun is yet to be seen. This is Sreshth Shah, and together with Saurabh Somani, we'll be bringing you all the action. So

sit tight for what should be an electric ODI series