AB de Villiers will play his first Test after January as he ended his self-imposed exile from Test. (Source: Twitter)
Reducing the duration of a Test, from five days to four, has necessitated several other experimental changes in playing conditions when South Africa host Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth starting Tuesday. It will be the first day/night Test to be held in South Africa, the eighth overall and the first four-day game since 1972/73 to be awarded Test status. The six-day Super Test between Australia and a World XI ended inside four days. Before 1972/73, Tests were played over a variety of durations — from three days to six— and some were even ‘timeless’ Tests, to go on until a result was achieved.
Play will be scheduled for six-and-a-half hours each day, half an hour more than in five-day games, with 98 overs due to be bowled in a day, instead of 90. As in five-day games, an extra half hour can be added in order to complete the overs.
One & a half hours under floodlights
Play will start at 1.30pm (1700 IST) each day with the scheduled close at 9pm (0030 IST). With the sunset in Port Elizabeth expected to be around 7.30pm during the match, at least an hour and a half of play each day is expected to take place totally under artificial light. It necessitates the use of the pink ball.
A stunning day in Port Elizabeth today as the Proteas continue their preparation for the first ever #DayNightTest in South Africa. Tickets are selling fast at http://t.co/vfUj3KvAY6. pic.twitter.com/l3Ih9d7seY
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) 24 December 2017
The first two sessions of play will be of two hours 15 minutes each, instead of the usual two hours, with a 20-minute tea break instead of a lunch break after the first session. There will be a 40-minute dinner break after the second session. There is no provision for time lost to be carried over to subsequent days.
The follow-on can be enforced with a first-innings lead of 150 runs, compared to 200 runs in five-day games.
In five-day Tests, the last hour on the final day officially begins when 75 overs have been bowled in the day. In the upcoming match, the last hour will start after 83 overs.