MUMBAI: Six new Test centres, including Dharamsala and Ranchi, will host five-day matches for the first time during a packed home season for the Indian cricket team beginning with the New Zealand series in October-November.
A busy international schedule awaits the Indian team in the coming home season with 13 Test matches, eight One-Day Internationals and three T20 Internationals pencilled in by the BCCI.
Rajkot, Vizag, Pune, Dharamsala, Ranchi and Indore, upgraded as Test centres in November last year, will host five-day matches for the first time, BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke said in a statement.
The new centres would also host Tests this season against the visiting New Zealand, England, Australia and Bangladesh, the BCCI announced after the meeting of its Tour Programmes and Fixtures Committee here today.
The home season will start with three Test matches and five ODIs against New Zealand followed by five Test matches, three ODIs and as many T20Is against England.
Australia are to visit India in February-March, 2017 to play four Test matches while Bangladesh is slated to play a one-off Test match in India for the first time since the country got Test status.
The three Tests against New Zealand would be played at Indore, Kanpur and Kolkata while Dharamsala, Delhi, Mohali, Ranchi and Vizag are to host the five ODIs against the Kiwis.
Five Test matches against England would be held at Mohali, Rajkot, Mumbai, Vizag and Chennai, with the ODIs to be held at Pune, Cuttack and Kolkata and the three T20 games scheduled at Bengaluru, Nagpur and Kanpur.
Australia are to tour India in February, 2017 to play four Test matches to be played at Bengaluru, Dharamsala, Ranchi and Pune while Hyderabad would be the venue for the stand-alone Test match against Bangladesh.
All these venues will get matches subject to the condition that they have numbered the seats in the stadiums and fulfil all the guidelines laid down by the BCCI, said Shirke.
The domestic cricket season will kick off in September with the Duleep Trophy, which was not held in 2015-16 season. The tournament is set to be played under lights with pink ball for the first time.
This is being done to help Indian cricketers, all of whom are expected to take part, become familiar with playing under lights with the pink coloured ball, ahead of playing Test cricket in these conditions at home during the packed season.
During the season, 918 matches are to be organised by the Board, including Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Deodhar Trophy, Irani Trophy, women's cricket and all other age group cricket.
Chhattisgarh has been added to the Ranji Trophy schedule for the first time.
"This translates into 1,882 playing days between September 2016 to March 2017," Shirke said.
"I welcome the new Test venues hosting this prestigious format of cricket and their arrival will take Test match cricket, to every corner of the country," said BCCI President Anurag Thakur.
"We are equally excited about the domestic season as we will be playing the Duleep trophy with the pink ball under lights and take this opportunity to welcome Chhattisgarh, who will play Ranji trophy for the first time."
"A combined team of Affiliate and Associate states will participate in the junior age group tournaments, which will provide the much needed opportunity to the emerging players from these areas. This further reaffirms our commitment to spread the game by providing the appropriate platforms to our next generation cricketer," he added.
BCCI secretary Shirke noted that the advance announcement of international match staging centres for the coming season will give them enough time to buckle up for the task ahead.
"Some of the best teams of world cricket are coming to play in India this season and we are excited to announce the schedule well ahead of time. This gives the staging associations and the BCCI sufficient time to prepare and present one of the most memorable cricketing seasons for our fans," said Shirke.
"I have full faith in our team at BCCI to deliver international and domestic cricket simultaneously and engage the ardent fans on all fronts," he added.