First ODI abandoned without a ball bowled

Supersoppers work on the covers Associated Press

Persistent rain has seen the first ODI between India and South Africa in Dharamsala washed out, without even a coin toss, in identical fashion to the first T20I between these two sides at the same venue last September. South Africa have returned six months after that tour, where they drew the T20I series 1-all and were swept 0-3 in the Tests, and have brought with them a whole new structure. But they will have to wait until Sunday to get on the park and show whether anything has changed.

The opening match was scheduled to start at 1.30pm local time and there were signs it could take place when the covers were taken off just after 2pm, but it was only a brief respite from the rain. It returned for the rest of the afternoon and after a total of 3 hours and 50 minutes of waiting, the match was abandoned, reducing this to a two-match series.

A sparse crowd was present at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium but there is increasing speculation that the remaining fixtures will be played behind closed doors as preventative measures against COVID-19 heighten. The teams have already agreed not to shake hands and avoid direct contact with fans, with the Indian team advised not to take selfies. Should supporters be told to stay away from the remainder of the series, it will affect those in Kolkata and Lucknow, the venues for the final two games.

However, Interest in the series is still likely to remain high with Hardik Pandya, Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar all three back for India after injury layoffs and an experimental South African side visiting. This is both team's final assignment before an international break for the IPL, the fate of which will be decided at a governing council meeting on Saturday. Several of South Africa's squad including Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and Lungi Ngidi are due to play in the IPL and will likely remain in India after the final ODI on March 18 to begin the tournament on March 29.