India tour of Australia could begin with white-ball cricket
India's tour of Australia this year was supposed to begin with a four-match Test series but one of the options now under discussion between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) is to get started with a limited-over series instead.
It would allow India to fly out a bigger entourage made up of both Test and limited-overs players to better deal with the quarantine rules in place.
The other advantage being eyed with this move is avoiding the postponement of the T20I leg to 2022 alongside the T20 World Cup as was earlier expected. This would ensure no loss of games from the original schedule.
India's tour of Australia would have started in May, with a three-match T20I series before the T20 World Cup, followed by the Test series getting underway in December.
However, owing to a spike in global virus cases in Melbourne necessitating a lockdown until the middle of September, as well as due to the Indian T20 League announced to be held in UAE between September 19 - November 10, the Indian players will have to touch down in Australia by November 12 and begin training by November 26.
Uncertainty around when the practice matches could be held has posed a challenge in starting the tour with four Tests as originally planned. Indian skipper Virat Kohli was insistent on playing a practice match under the lights to prepare for the day-night Test, "I think it depends when the Test happens. If it's the first Test, then obviously before the first game you play (a practice match)."
The other difficulty lies with Australia's planned one-off Test against Afghanistan between November 21-25 in Perth, which would only leave four days in hand before the first Test against India at the Gabba.
If the T20 and ODI series were therefore held first and completed by December 10, it would open up more time for a practice match before the first Test
"We are really excited about the home Test summer, both the first Test against Afghanistan and the four scheduled against India," said CA's head of national teams Ben Oliver on Friday.
"We are doing everything we can to get those matches played, to be honest, it's not without its challenges, there is some complexity in the schedule and our ability to move around the country but we have great support and commitment from our various partners including Afghanistan and India."
Oliver also held up the ongoing Test action in England as an example they will aim to emulate.
"In the same way as this tour of England, it's with health and safety at the forefront of our thinking and the non-negotiable of our commitment to public health. We remain optimistic about delivering the full Test summer."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran