Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Afghan Test too close for com­fort for In­dia

- HT Cor­re­spon­dent sportsdesk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

 ?? GETTY IM­AGES ?? Afghanista­n will play their maiden Test against In­dia at Ban­ga­lore from June 14.
GETTY IM­AGES Afghanista­n will play their maiden Test against In­dia at Ban­ga­lore from June 14.

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