SANDIPAN BANERJEE | 7 JANUARY, 2019
What Can We Expect From Indian Cricket in 2019?
An action packed year
So, here we are, in 2019, the year of the pinnacle event of the cricketing world – the ICC Cricket World Cup. And quite naturally, fans are expecting a roller-coaster ride. Nevertheless, 2019 is not just about the World Cup. We will also witness the first-ever ICC World Test Championship being commenced this year as well plenty of high-profile bilateral series, including the Ashes.
However, in this piece we will only concentrate on the Future Tour Programme (FTP) of the Indian team and highlight what fans can expect from Virat Kohli and Co. in this year.
The tour of Australia-New Zealand
Right at the start of the year, the Indian team is well on course to achieve a much-awaited glory – the first-ever Test series victory in Down Under. When the author is penning down this article, Kohli’s boys are in a dominating position in the ongoing ‘New Year Test’ in Sydney. Thus, it seems like just a formality now for the Indians to be the first Asian team to beat Australia in Australia in a Test series. And despite the fact that they have played against a depleted hosts’ side, the series triumph in that part of the world will certainly be a historic moment for Indian cricket.
Meanwhile, following the Sydney Test, all the focus will be on white-ball cricket as the dress-rehearsal for World Cup is set to commence. India will play three ODIs in Australia before heading towards New Zealand, where they are scheduled to feature in five 50-over’s encounters and three T20Is between January 23rd and February 10th. And from the squads which the selectors have been picked for these tours, it is crystal clear that the team management aims to provide the maximum amount of exposure to its World Cup probables. So, during these matches the primary focus will be solving the middle-order conundrum in the batting department as well as finding couple of seam bowlers, who can provide a back-up to Jastprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The home season and IPL XII
Coming back from this trans-Tasmanian tour, India will once again lock-horn against Australia in five ODIs and two T20Is at home between February 24 and March 13. Perhaps, it will be the final opportunity for the think-tank to identify their best 15 players for the World Cup.
Well, according to the FTP, in March, Zimbabwe are also scheduled to play their first-ever Test match on Indian soil after since 2002. The tour includes three ODIs as well, which could very well be the final occasion when fans can see MS Dhoni playing international cricket in India. However, BCCI is yet to announce the final schedule for this series.
Next in line is the IPL XII, which is likely to have an early start this year, in the last week of March. Due to upcoming the Lok Sabha elections, currently there are plenty of uncertainties surrounding the schedule of this lucrative T20 league. The final fixture is yet to be announced but this year we might see a portion of the tournament taking place in abroad, like it happened back in 2014. As per the recent media reports the organisers are considering the UAE as the most preferred venue for the tournament.
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
From May 30 to July 14, England will host the most lucrative cricketing event of the year, in which 10 top ODI nations will fight it out for the World Cup glory. India will enter the event as one of the red-hot favourites and considering the format, they can certainly make it to the semis without much fuss, if Kohli and Co. plays according to their potential.
The post-World Cup schedule
In the middle of July, right after the World Cup, the Indian team will head towards the Caribbean for a bilateral tour against the Windies, which are likely to commence with three ODIs and three T20Is. Followed by these white-ball fixtures, the visitors will play two Test matches over there, which will be their inaugural assignment in the ICC World Test Championship.
Coming back home, India's second opponent in the World Test Championship will be South Africa in October-November, when the Proteas will tour for three-Test series. This series is expected to be the toughest red-ball assignment in this year for Kohli’s boys.
Meanwhile, that home series will be followed by another one against Bangladesh, who will travel to India for two Tests and three T20 Internationals. Finally, right the end of this year, Windies will come down for three ODIs and three T20Is.
Overall, it is going to be yet another action-packed year for Indian cricket and the scheme of things of the stakeholders will be focused around the World Cup and World Test Championship.