India started the year knowing they had three big overseas tours ahead of them, but it took until the third tour to finally pick the right team.
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The officials of Amul, an Indian based company, were standing alongside New Zealand cricketers on their jersey launch for ICC Champions Trophy, 2017.
New Zealand Cricket was still having a blackout in India, with no broadcaster televising the games.
Sony had purchased the rights to televise the India-New Zealand series in 2014 and at the end of it, they too passed it on.
Indian audiences could not see Brendon McCullum bidding adieu to the international game in style, when he smashed fastest ever century in the history of Test cricket in his final game – as there was no telecast.
Finally, Star ended this blackout in November 2017, buying the rights to telecast Kiwi cricket in India until 2020.
It’s been more than four years since India have played a Test match in New Zealand, although the Kiwis visited the subcontinent to be part of history, when they played India’s 500th Test match in 2016.
The plan to play the Black Caps in their own backyard was possible until a few weeks back, but the board decided to cut down ‘days cricket’ matches from the tour, as it did not suit their pockets.
A Test match in New Zealand starts at 3:30am (IST), when even ardent fan may find it difficult to keep awake.
It was not financially suitable for the board and thus, the BCCI decided to shelve the Test matches, thus putting monetary benefits ahead of what could have been a crunch series.
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By reasoning that the World Cup will be around the corner at the same time, the board said that it is more beneficial for the Indian team to play limited-overs cricket, rather than Test matches.
Interestingly, last year, the BCCI did not play even a single ODI after the month of January, with the ICC Champions Trophy scheduled to be played in June.
The only tournaments they played were the IPL and a Test series against Australia in February-March.
So the board giving the World Cup as the reason not to play the Test series is not legit. The sole reason is the money which the board stood to lose.
As per the scheduled announced, the Indian team’s new season will commence in June, with an historic Test match against Afghanistan, after which India will play two T20Is against Ireland – who will make their Test debut with a match against Pakistan in May.
India will then fly to England for a jumbo series comprising three T20Is, three ODIs and five Test matches.
On return, after a stay of more than two months, India will play the Asia Cup, the venue of which is yet to be announced.
A full-fledged home series against the West Indies, followed by the Australia tour (four Tests, three ODIs, three T20s) will keep them busy.
In the New Year, Virat Kohli’s men will have only a white-ball challenge against New Zealand, before Australia and Zimbabwe – for limited-overs series – will come to India to mark an end to the season.
The IPL will be a recreation for T20 fanatics, after which ten teams will again play the ICC World Cup 2019 in England.
The Test action between India and New Zealand will now only be seen in 2020, the same year the T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place.
Should the BCCI think of the financial suitability even then, the idea to defer it for few more years may not come as a surprise.