TOI has learnt the Indian cricket board (BCCI) is planning to squeeze in three more limited-overs overseas tours after the tour of England in July and before the T20 World Cup. India are scheduled to play a one-off T20I against Ireland while in the UK.
According to sources, India will be touring West Indies immediately after the England tour before travelling to Zimbabwe and then participating in the Asia Cup in UAE as preparation for the T20 World Cup, which is due to start on October 16.
Once Sri Lanka’s tour of India is over on March 16, the Indian players will be busy with the IPL which will run till the third week of May, followed by a five-match T20I series at home against South Africa till June 19. The team will fly out to UK a week after the South Africa series.
TWO DIFFERENT TEAMS
The Indian team management and selectors have already started contemplating a mega-pool of nearly 35 players who will represent India. With the one-off T20I in Ireland likely to overlap with the one-off Test in England, there is every chance India could be having two teams at different venues at a given time, much like how a second-string team toured Sri Lanka last year when the Test team was playing a series in England.
“The discussions on bio-bubble breaks have already started. Every player has been communicated about the busy itinerary. They have been given time to think about when they would like to take a break. It’s likely a depleted side will travel to Zimbabwe. Ideally, the Asia Cup will be the right tournament to play the first team, in order to get combinations right before the T20 World Cup,” a BCCI official said.
The Indian team will be mostly playing T20Is on these tours. It will be a time for the final round of auditions for players to stake their claim for the mega event in Australia. However, India coach Rahul Dravid has said that the team management has more or less identified the core of the team which is likely to play in the World Cup. After the last T20I against West Indies, Dravid had said that he didn’t want to spread his net too wide. But with such a busy schedule, he will have to play with a big pool of players.
BCCI’s decision to play so many series comes from its commitment to help member nations generate revenues for their own boards.
It is believed that the revenue generated from the one-off T20 International against Ireland will suffice for the Irish board’s expenses for a year.
The schedule is a tough one to work around and the team management has already got working to ensure a fresh and ready team for the T20 World Cup.