Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)
Afghan Test too close for comfort for India
NEW DELHI: While the Sri Lanka series that ran till December 24 didn’t allow Virat Kohli’s team enough time to get acclimatised to conditions in South Africa, Afghanistan’s first-ever Test also threatens to affect India’s preparations ahead of the tour of Ireland and England.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) once again fitted in an unscheduled and out-of-turn series, announcing on Tuesday that it will host Afghanistan’s first-ever Test at Bangalore from June 14, leaving the India team less than a week before it flies to Ireland and England for the long summer.
Quite intriguingly, the Board officials bypassed the tours and fixtures committee without calling them for a meeting to decide this Test.
Rajan Tiwari, a member of the committee, who had attended the last meeting held in August in Kolkata to decide the 2017-18 home season, including the hastily-arranged Sri Lanka series, confirmed that he had no knowledge of the decision. It has also been learnt that the Board president and treasurer were kept in the dark.
The Afghanistan Test is scheduled to end on June 18 and India will leave on June 24 or 25 for Ireland where they play the first of their two T20s against the hosts on June 27. About a week after their arrival, they move to England for the limited-overs series and stay there till September playing a five-Test series.
The Board, however, fulfilled the Lodha panel recommendation allowing a 15-day gap between the IPL and the next series. The IPL ends on May 27.
The scheduling also evoked surprise because India players have complained about too much cricket. Board secretary Amitabh Choudhary said, “everything has been taken into consideration.” He, however, refused to comment on whether players’ consent was taken.
“There will be a 15-(plus) day gap between IPL and the Afghanistan Test and there’ll be a 4-5 days gap before the team leaves (for Ireland and England),” said Rahul Johri, the BCCI Chief Executive Officer at a press conference on Tuesday.
It should be noted that India are enduring a torrid time in South Africa, having lost the first Test in Cape Town due to batting failure. They are on the cusp of losing the second Test at Centurion too.
Before going to South Africa, India played a limited-overs series – three ODIs and three T20s, against Sri Lanka and it ended only on December 24 leaving them little chance of going to South Africa early and prepare.
A similar problem awaits them in United Kingdom.
The BCCI, however, had offered a couple of options to the Afghanistan Cricket Board, who took the June 14-18 dates. Afghanistan cricket board chairman Atif Mashal said, “We could not take the window in October as we have planned Afghanistan Premier League (on the lines of Indian Premier League).”
Immediately after returning from England, following their last assignment on September 11, India host the Asia Cup from September 15-30.
It leaves only October free although there are talks that a series could again be fitted into that slot. India then embark on the tour of Australia in November.