After a gap of more than five years, test cricket is scheduled to return to Delhi early next year. That was after it was confirmed as one of the venues when Australia tour the country for a four-match series in the latest instalment of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. And, with points on the line that will count towards the World Test Championship, it could prove to be a pivotal series for both sides.
The other three tests are likely to be held in Ahmedabad, Dharamsala, and one of Chennai, Hyderabad or Nagpur.
Although dates have yet to be confirmed, it looks likely that the first Test will be staged in the yet unnamed venue, with the action switching to Delhi for the second one in early February. Dharamsala will then assume hosting rights, with series ending in Ahmedabad.
This will be the first test played in Delhi since India hosted Sri Lanka there in December 2017. The reason why there has been such a long gap is mainly due to competition. India is a big country and there are many cities willing to host international matches because of the revenue that it generates.
Should Dharamsala be confirmed as the venue for the third match that will just be the second time ever that it has hosted a test match. And now, with venues like Ahmedabad, where the newly reconstructed ground is now the largest stadium in the world, those with the best facilities and stadium capacity, tend to have an advantage when it comes to selection criteria.
It means that even iconic venues like Eden Gardens in Kolkata have to wait their turn to stage matches.
What is the Border Gavaskar trophy
The Border Gavaskar trophy is the name given to the test series between India and Australia. It is named after the two former distinguished captains of both countries, Allan Border of Australia and Sunil Gavaskar of India.
It has been competed for since 1996, although India and Australia have been playing test cricket against each other since 1947.
To date, there have been 52 tests played between the pair since the Trophy was inaugurated, and the current head to head stands 22 test wins to India, 19 to Australia, and 11 which have either been drawn (or, in one case, ended in a tie).
India have enjoyed much the better of things on home soil, though.
Since 1996, they have won all but one of their eight home series, the only exception to that coming back in 2004.
Their last test meeting
This will be their first test series since India’s triumphant tour of Australia in the winter of 2020/2021.
On that occasion they rebounded from losing the first test heavily in Adelaide, by winning the next match in Melbourne. With the third test in Sydney resulting in a draw, the outcome of the series depended on the fourth test in Brisbane, where India stunned the hosts to win by three wickets. The effort was all the more creditable because their captain at the time, Virat Kohli, only played in the first test before returning home because his wife was having a baby.
This will be the last test fixtures for both countries before the ICC World Test Championship final which will be played at the Oval next June, and it could potentially be vital to the chances of both being involved in that match.
Australia currently top the standings ahead of South Africa, Sri Lanka and India, but they still have nine tests to play in the current cycle, five at home against the West Indies and South Africa, and then the four against India.
Whilst they will be confident of winning their home series, India could still leapfrog them if they win all six of their remaining matches. That would need them to beat Bangladesh in their two tests when they travel there next month and then whitewash the Australians.
Meanwhile, defeat to Australia would damage South Africa’s chances of being involved in the WTC final.
It gives India every incentive to beat Bangladesh and would certainly give the series against the Australians added spice – if that were needed. Matches between the two countries are usually hotly contested.
India lost the inaugural WTC final to New Zealand in 2021, and would dearly love the chance to be involved again.
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