In November, 2017, during the India-Sri Lanka Test series, captain Virat Kohli had spoken about lack of preparation time for South Africa tour. Due to a packed international calendar, India entered the first Test against the Proteas without match practice and lost by 72 runs in Cape Town.
Even though Kohli said they had prepared well for the three-Test series opener at Newlands stadium, it has now emerged that the Indian team management "declined" an offer from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) where they could have sent Test specialists early to the "Rainbow Nation".
During the home Test rubber against Sri Lanka, Kohli had, in a way, questioned BCCI's logic of scheduling matches. He had mentioned that due to lack of preparations in South Africa, they were forced to try out similar conditions in India.
"Unfortunately we get only two days before we fly to South Africa after this series gets over. So we have no choice but try to be in a game situation and think of what's coming ahead of us," Kohli had said in November.
"Had we got a month off ideally, we would have done a proper preparation in a camp sort of scenario but we have to sort of make do with what we have," he added.
Kohli skipped the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka due to his wedding with Anushka Sharma. He tied the knot on December 11 in Italy. The Indian team fly to South Africa on December 28 and played the first Test from January 5.
India were schedule to play a warm-up game but they cancelled, opting for "net" sessions. Ahead of the Test, most of the players said they were "confident" and the training sessions were fruitful.
Many fans were left wondering why some of the Indian Test players did not travel to South Africa early to get acclimatised to conditions. It would have certainly helped.
But now it has emerged that BCCI in fact had offered to send the Test players early but was "declined" by the team management.
"The BCCI had offered Indian team management that the core group of Test team can be sent to South Africa early. Players like Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane are not part of limited overs cricket and were playing local cricket here. The BCCI was ready to bear the cost but team management showed no interest and declined the offer. We were even ready to let top players skip ODI and T20 legs of the series against Sri Lanka," an unnamed BCCI official was quoted as saying by "Indian Express" newspaper today (January 10).
If the BCCI's claims are true, then questions need to be asked to captain Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and the rest of the team management. Why did they not allow Test players to go to South Africa early? What was the real reason?
When Kohli was speaking about lack of preparation time, why did he accept BCCI's offer? Was there anything more important than the South African series for the players during the time?
The team management needs to clarify as BCCI has firmly put the ball in their court. Will we get answers or not?