One of the biggest events of the new international cricket season will be available to watch live online as India and South Africa — two global cricket powerhouse cricket nations — go head-to-head in an epic, 72-day series that starts with the first of three T20 matches on Friday and runs through the first week in December with the capper to a four-Test series.
While the T20 series may seem like nothing more than an appetizer for the main course of five ODIs and four tests to come, in reality, Friday's match and the subsequent two T20 showdowns serve as the final chance for both teams to face each other in India conditions ahead of the showcase event of the 2016 cricket calendar — the T20 World Cup, which starts next March and will be hosted by India.
Both teams are loaded with global cricket stars. India features Captain M.S. Dhoni, Virat Kholi and Rohit Sharma. South Africa shows up with A.B. de Villiers, Captain Faf du Plessis and top fast bowler Dale Steyn — though Steyn has been rested for the T20 series, joining the squad for the first ODI on October 11.
To find out how to watch the first India vs. South Africa T20 live online, see the streaming information at the bottom of this article. The action gets underway at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala, India, at 7 p.m. Indian Standard Time on Friday, October 2 — 9:30 a.m. United States Eastern Daylight Time, 6:30 a.m. Pacific.
The two sides are familiar with each other not only as opponents, but as teammates, thanks to the high-profile Indian Premier League franchise-based annual T20 tournament.
The two opposing captains, du Plessis and Dhoni, are comrades on the Chennai Super Kings IPL team, which is captained by Dhoni. The premier batsmen for each side, Kholi and de Villiers, also played side-by-side on the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where Kholi is de Villiers' skipper.
India has seen little action in the T20 format over the past year. In fact, in their most recent T20 series, the Men in Blue actually lost one of two matches to low-ranked Zimbabwe — though both Kolhi and Dhoni stayed home for those games. But Dhoni says that the IPL, in which most of the India players took part, makes up for the team's lack of international experience in the game's fastest, shortest format.
"When international teams play each other, they usually play just one T20I or two T20Is," Dhoni said earlier this week. "That has been the case, but the good thing is that we play IPL. The players play a lot of T20 cricket there and we know what needs to be done."
India-based website CricHD will stream the First India vs. South Africa T20 at this link, but fans who choose that option will have to put up with numerous advertisements that often cause slowdowns when viewing online. The best way to watch the first match of the India vs. South Africa cricket tour online in the United States is through Willow TV, which is available via this YouTube link with a monthly subscription fee, as well as on Willow TV's own site, accessible by clicking here.
But there are legal ways to watch Willow TV for free. Certain promotional offers make it possible to watch the all-cricket network, including the Zimbabwe vs. Pakistan ODI series, for a limited period of time, such as the offer at this link — or try the one-month free trial of Sling TV's International Sports Package, which includes Willow. Information on that deal can be found at this link.
India network Star Sports streams the India vs. South Africa cricket First T20 at this link.
[Images: Quinn Rooney / Paul Kane / Getty Images]