After enduring an intense Indian Premier League (IPL) season that lasted nearly two months, all Indian players are set to participate in the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final in England.
With the WTC final already demanding their full attention, senior players such as Kohli and Rohit will require adequate rest before embarking on the challenging tour of the West Indies, where all three formats of the game will be played.
Considering the limited window available for the Afghanistan series, scheduled between June 20 and 30, the BCCI is contemplating either shortening the series or transforming it into a T20I or ODI series. The proposed second-string side, led by Hardik Pandya, would then be entrusted with the responsibility of representing India.
During his visit to India for the IPL final, Mirwais Ashraf, the president of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), will hold discussions with the BCCI to finalise the details of the proposed white-ball series between the two nations. This meeting coincides with a scheduled gathering of the Asian Cricket Council, providing an ideal opportunity for both boards to solidify their plans.
Following the conclusion of the IPL, the Indian team has a jam-packed schedule ahead.
While the coaching staff and some team members have already departed for England to prepare for the WTC final against Australia, an extensive tour of the Caribbean is also on the horizon. India is scheduled to play two Tests, three ODIs, and five T20Is against the West Indies from July 12 to August 13.
Subsequently, a three-match T20I series in Ireland, primarily featuring IPL performers, is expected to follow. Considering the workload, even Hardik Pandya might be rested from the Ireland series, with an eye on the Asia Cup.
The Asian Cricket Council members will convene during the IPL final to finalise the future of the Asia Cup 2023. If the tournament is confirmed for September, it will further add to the workload of Indian players, as they prepare for the highly anticipated 50-over World Cup, scheduled for October-November.
With the current congested calendar already witnessing significant injuries to key players such as Jasprit Bumrah and Shreyas Iyer, the management faces the challenge of managing player workload and ensuring adequate rest and recovery.
Additionally, in September, India is also slated to play a three-match ODI series against Australia, further intensifying the team’s preparations for the World Cup.
However, the BCCI is facing logistical hurdles in scheduling the Afghanistan series, which was initially proposed to include three ODIs. Time constraints and the expiration of the broadcast deal with Disney Star are contributing factors. Nonetheless, BCCI secretary Jay Shah confirmed that the media rights tender will proceed as scheduled this year, likely after the Australia series, following consultations with all relevant stakeholders.
The BCCI is diligently working to navigate the complex scheduling issues and strike a balance between player workload, necessary rest, and preparation for crucial upcoming events. By considering the deployment of a second-string team for the Afghanistan series, the board aims to ensure the optimal performance of its players while fulfilling commitments to various tournaments.
(With inputs from PTI)