India coach Gary Kirsten will be leaving early for India's tour of South Africa along with nine players. The move comes with an aim to give the team enough time to adapt and acclimate to the vastly different pitch conditions in the country. India's bowling coach Eric Simons will stand in for Kirtsen to conduct his duties for the final two one-dayers against New Zealand.
Among the players marked for an early departure are captain M S Dhoni, VIrender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Jaydev Unadkat. It is also probable that middle-order batsman Suresh Raina will sit out the last two one-day games against New Zealand and will accompany the players leaving early, after Dhoni expressed concerns about his recent workload.
Kirsten and seven of the players are scheduled to leave India on Dec 6th, while Dhoni and Harbhajan will join them a couple of days later with Raina also likely to accompany them.
The players will begin their preparations at Kirsten's cricket academy in Cape Town before shifting to Johannesburg where they will be joined by the rest of the side, arriving there on December 12th. The three-Test series begins at Centurion on Dec 16.
Kirsten had made the request for players to leave early in a letter to the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) several months earlier. He pointed out that owing to the lack of match practice prior to the series, they would need time to settle in and acclimatise. The board dragged its feet over granting the permission because of any potential objections the broadcaster of the India vs New Zealand ODI series might have about devaluing the fixtures.