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Four-day test to have minimum of 98 overs per day

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Four-day test to have minimum of 98 overs per day

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(Reuters) - A minimum of 98 overs will be played on each day of the inaugural four-day test between South Africa and Zimbabwe starting later this month in Port Elizabeth.

The African neighbours will play the first test match shortened by one day from Dec. 26, with the International Cricket Council (ICC) granting it official status and welcoming countries to experiment with the format.

ICC playing conditions deem that a minimum of 90 overs must be bowled per day during a five-day test match, so play will be extended for an extra 30 minutes to accommodate the additional eight overs.

A first-innings lead of 150 will be enough to enforce the follow-on in the day-night fixture in Port Elizabeth, 50 runs less than the runs needed in the five-day format.

Test matches, the game's oldest format, have witnessed a steady decline in attendances in recent years, throwing the door open to a number of novel means to engage fans, including the introduction of day-night tests.

The format has come in for stiff competition from the game's newer, shorter formats, such as Twenty20 internationals and domestic leagues across the globe.

Officials and former players have acknowledged the need to make tests four-day affairs instead of five, hoping it would help them become more viewer friendly.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien)

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