Following a glut of Twenty20s in the last few months, fans are set to get a heavy dose of the longest format this year.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced on Thursday that India will host as many as 13 Tests during the 2016/17 home season, equalling the record for the most home Tests in a season for India. India last hosted as many Tests at home during the 1979-80 season.
Small centres are set to prosper the most from the decision made by the Board’s Tours and Fixtures committee, which met in Mumbai on Thursday. Rajkot, Visakhapatnam, Pune, Dharamsala, Ranchi and Indore, which were awarded Test status last year, will each host their opening games.
Other than the 13 Tests, India will also host eight one-dayers and three Twenty20 internationals during the season, which will feature series against New Zealand, England, Australia and Bangladesh.
New Zealand will be the first team to visit. They will play three Tests and five ODIs from September 23 to October 30. Indore, Kanpur and Kolkata will host the Tests, while the ODIs will be played in Dharamsala, Delhi, Mohali, Ranchi and Visakhapatnam.
England will arrive in November for five Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is. The Last time India hosted a five-Test series was in 1986-87. Tests are scheduled for Mohali, Rajkot, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam and Chennai, while the ODIs will be played in Pune, Cuttack and Kolkata. The T20Is will be played in Bangalore, Nagpur and Kanpur.
India will also resume their rivalry with Australia, who are scheduled to visit next February-March. They will play four Tests in Bengaluru, Dharamsala, Ranchi and Pune.
Bangladesh are slated to play a one-off Test in India, their first in this country since being granted Test status in 2000. The BCCI said the match will be held in Hyderabad, but did not mention dates.
Delhi and Nagpur, other than Ahmedabad which is under renovation, are the only two Test venues to miss out on a five-day game during the season.
The BCCI didn’t specify whether India will host its first day-night Test, but the speculation is rife that Eden Gardens might be chosen. The venue is due to stage the country’s first pink-ball match – the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) Super League final, from June 17 to 20.
Reports suggested that the Bengal association (CAB) has already written to the Board requesting that it be allowed to host the marquee Test. BCCI is also said to have agreed, but there has been no official statement.
The BCCI seems to be warming up to the idea of hosting first-class cricket under lights. It announced on Thursday that the domestic season will start in September with the resumption of Duleep Trophy, a day/night tournament with pink ball.
The tournament will help test the pink ball in Indian conditions and allow the Indian players to get used to playing first-class cricket under lights.
Australia and New Zealand played the first ever day-night Test in Adelaide last November. Australia is set to host another day-night clash in November, against South Africa.