Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram in line for T20I debuts



The Barsapara Stadium in Guwahati, which has been a first-class venue, will play host to a T20 International against Australia © Associated Press

Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati are set to make their T20 international debuts in a packed 2017-18 home season, the BCCI has announced. Between September and December, India will play 23 internationals – three Tests, 11 ODIs and nine T20Is – against Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka during the crammed home season.

Australia will be the first to arrive and are scheduled to play five ODIs and three T20Is in September-October, following which India will take on New Zealand in three ODIs and three T20Is. India’s home swing will then wind down with a full series against Sri Lanka, comprising three Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is. This is the second season in a row that India will host more than 20 international games after a record 2016-17 season that saw 13 Tests, eight ODIs and three T20Is being played.

BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said the dates for the three tours had not been finalised yet. “The dates of the matches have deliberately not been frozen today because the logistics must factor in local factors such as festivals because as you know Durga Puja being what it is in the whole of eastern India and not only in West Bengal and other public holidays and logistics of distance,” he told reporters in Kolkata at the end of a meeting of the board’s Tours and Fixtures Committee.

With the final T20I against Sri Lanka is likely to take place in the third week of December, India are likely to have a short turnaround before their full tour of South Africa. While this would mean that the chances of a Boxing Day Test in South Africa – a fixture Cricket South Africa has been pressing for – are remote, Choudhary said the possibility couldn’t be ruled out. As ESPNcricinfo had earlier reported, Sri Lanka will bring forward their tour to India from February as they now host India and one other team in the tri-nation Independence Cup during the period.

“Where the question of Sri Lanka’s arrival was concerned, that tweaking has had to happen because Sri Lanka is organising an Independence Cup in Sri Lanka,” Choudhary said. “And, that will be shortly after India’s return from South Africa. Now, Sri Lanka has always co-operated with India and therefore India will actually be making a reciprocal short-version tour only to play the Independence Cup.

“There is another reason for the tweaking to take place. That’s because there were six proposed exchange of tours between India and Pakistan which did not happen. So those spaces had to be adjusted with other activities.”

While Choudhary said either Kochi or Thiruvananthapuram will host a T20 international against Sri Lanka, Kerala Cricket Association secretary, Jayesh George, confirmed that the Greenfield Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram will stage the match on December 20. The Barsapara Stadium in Guwahati, which has been a first-class venue, will play host to a T20 international against Australia.

“Since we have the FIFA Under-17 World Cup matches and the ISL (Indian Super League) [football tournament] in Kochi, this game will take place in Thiruvananthapuram,” George told ESPNcricinfo. “After more than 25 years, an international match is coming to the city. We have to fine-tune a few things because it is a new venue and there will be some hindrances. But, we can sort it out. We have time as well and we will be conducting a Ranji Trophy match before it.”

While the stadium has been inspected and given the approval by the BCCI, the ICC is expected to conduct an inspection soon. “The BCCI’s committee visited the stadium about two months ago and they were satisfied with it,” George said. “The ICC inspection should be just a formality because all the [eligibility] criteria have been fulfilled.

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun


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