Cape Town - Strike bowler Kagiso Rabada and wicketkeeper/batsman Quinton de Kock are among key Proteas Test players inconvenienced by the washout of the first Twenty20 international against India in Dharamsala on Sunday.
While some interruptions had always looked on the cards weather-wise at the high-altitude, Himalayan venue, much more persistent, near monsoon-like rain wrecked the fixture instead.
It leaves the series now as a mere two-match shootout, with a fresh beginning in Mohali on Wednesday.
On the brighter side, the forecast at this stage is hot and dry for the clash at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium (again a 15:30 start, SA time).
Having a T20 series as preparation for the much longer Test format - and coming out of the South African off-season - is less than ideal anyway, and the abandonment means Rabada and De Kock, especially, will have two properly competitive matches at best to brush off winter cobwebs before the more crucial three-Test series from early next month.
Both have not played any serious cricket since the tail end of the Proteas’ poor World Cup in England in early July.
Other senior-level crossover players on this Subcontinent tour, Temba Bavuma and Anrich Nortje, have at least had some exposure to Indian conditions during parts of the (ongoing) SA ‘A’ tour, something that also applies to a handful of other players chosen for the Test series, but not the T20s.
There is an increasing risk, however, that seasoned characters Rabada and De Kock will struggle to hit the ground running when the Test combat begins, and the pair will certainly want no further washouts or reduced games in the shorter internationals.
The Proteas may rue the Dharamsala no-show for additional reasons: it was where they had launched the last bilateral T20 series in some style on the last tour, in 2015/16, by beating the hosts by seven wickets.
Wednesday’s follow-up venue in Mohali has never seen a T20 international between the countries, although India have won the lone Test, four years ago, and also the only ODI back in 1993 - though SA have clinched two neutral ODIs at the ground, against Pakistan in 2006 and the Netherlands in 2011.
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