India set to host Afghanistan before 2019 FTP

Sources have indicated that the BCCI and the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) are looking at two possible windows to conduct the Test — the first being the short time gap after India’s tour to South Africa and before the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the second after the Asia Cup.

Afghanistan's first Test match against India, in India, will be held next year, and not in 2019.   -  AP

Ever since the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that it would host Afghanistan for the latter’s debut Test, there have been talks whether it would at all be possible to host the fixture before 2019.

With the Indian team remaining busy with overseas tours for most of the time next year, the speculations have been rife that the Afghans might have to wait for the next Future Tours and Program (FTP). But contrary to general belief, top sources, who are in know of the development, have confirmed to Sportstar that the historic Test match will be held next year, and not in 2019.

READ: Afghanistan to make its Test debut against India, in India

“It will be held before the next FTP, which gets effective from 2019. As of now, it is scheduled for next year,” the source told Sportstar.

While there is still no clarity on the date and the venue, sources have indicated that the BCCI and the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) are looking at two possible windows to conduct the Test — the first being the short time gap after India’s tour to South Africa and before the Indian Premier League (IPL). In case that does not work out, the other option would be somewhere before or after the Asia Cup.

“A lot of things are being discussed. There are quite a few factors involved here, and both the boards are trying to ensure that things fall in place smoothly,” the source, who is privy to the development, said.

This publication has also reliably learnt that a final announcement on the date and the venue would be announced in a joint media conference held by both BCCI and ACB in the next few days. While there have been speculations that Eden Gardens could host the historic match, the sources indicate that may not be the case in the end. “The deliberations are on. There are a few things that require further discussions,” the source said.

ALSO READ: We requested BCCI to play the first Test, says ACB chief

In an interview with Sportstar last Monday, Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief Atif Mashal had said that they are working on the schedules and fixtures and will be announced soon. “It will be held next year. We cannot disclose the details at the moment,” the ACB chief had said then.

As per the proposed FTP for 2019-2023, India will be playing a total of 158 games, of which 37 are Tests, 67 ODIs and 54 T20s.

And now, with sources indicating that the much talked about Test would happen next year, Afghanistan players will have something to look forward to.

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