A controversial test match between India and South Africa began on schedule today in Centurion even though the International Cricket Council has refused to recognize it as an official match.
Shaun Pollock bowled the first ball of the match to Shiv Sunder Das after a crisis sparked by referee Mike Denness's penalties against six Indian players, including star batsman Sachin Tendulkar. Denness handed down a one-match suspended ban against Tendulkar for ball tampering in the second test in Port Elizabeth. Five other players - including captain Sourav Ganguly - were also penalized.
The action sparked an outrage among Indian players, fans, and government officials and India threatened to pull out of the third test. The South African Cricket Board then decided to ban Denness from the match in Centurion. However, the International Cricket Council backed Denness and said it would not recognize the match if he were not the referee.
The Indian and South African Cricket Board appointed an alternative officiating crew and decided to play the match anyway. Traditional cricket powers England and Australia have expressed support for the ICC, with Australian Prime Minister John Howard declaring the authority of the ICC should not be challenged.
In other cricket action, Australia's team has reached 558 for eight declared on the rain-delayed second day of the second test match against New Zealand in Hobart.
Play ended when the Kiwis left the field in poor light conditions without starting their innings. Rain wiped out the entire afternoon session. Ricky Ponting was the top scorer for Australia with an unbeaten 157. Daniel Vettori took five wickets for 138 from his 36 overs for New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the West Indies' cricket team has scored 39 for one in response to Sri Lanka's first innings score of 288 all out on the third day of the second test match in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Play resumed three and one half hours late Friday because of overnight rain. Mahala Jayawardene led Sri Lanka with 88 runs while Hashan Tillekeratne added 87 for the home side.
Pedro Collins was the top bowler for the Caribbean side taking four wickets while allowing 84 runs. Mervyn Dillon took three wickets while allowing 55 runs for the West Indies.
When the West Indies reached the crease, Chris Gayle scored 25 not out and Ramnaresh Sarwan added another 12 runs. Darren Ganga was dismissed for no runs. Sri Lanka won the first test and leads the three match series, 1-0.
In other cricket news, Zimbabwe's cricket team has defeated Bangladesh by five wickets in the first one-day international between the two sides in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Craig Wishart's unbeaten 79 runs led the African side after Zimbabwe lost three early wickets while scoring only 20 runs. Wishart and skipper Stuart Carlisle shared a 105 run fourth wicket partnership before Carlisle was run out.
Habibul Bashir led Bangladesh with 44 runs. Khaled Masud added another 40 runs for the home side. The next match is November 25 in Dhaka.