Vinod Rai: 'All our Test specialists will be in England in June'

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai informed that Indian cricketers will leave for England in two batches.

The former CAG, Vinod Rai, maintained that BCCI is not taking Afghanistan lightly.   -  Debashish Bhaduri

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai on Saturday said Test specialists Murali Vijay and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will land in England in June as part of Rahul Dravid-coached India A side that will be playing a number of first-class games against the county as well as England Lions (A) side.

The five-Test series against England will start in August and skipper Virat Kohli considers it as his biggest 'Test'. While Kohli will be playing for Surrey after the IPL, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma will represent Yorkshire and Sussex from the start of the County season.

'Ajinkya or Rohit to lead in Virat's absence'

Rai informed that Indian cricketers will leave for England in two batches in June. “There will be a few seniors - among Test specialists, who will leave for the UK in early June along with Rahul’s India A team. I can’t say how many - anything between two to four senior team players will be there from the start of A tour.

The former CAG, however, maintained that BCCI is not taking Afghanistan lightly and a very competitive side - like the one that won the Nidahas T20 Tri-Series - will be fielded during the historic one-off Test in Bengaluru, starting June 14.

“We are looking at the bigger picture and we have had discussions with our core think tank - skipper Virat, coach Ravi (Shastri), India A coach Rahul and GM (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim and chairman of selectors M.S.K Prasad. The general consensus has been preparation for England Test series,” Rai told PTI.

“Everyone can be rest assured that we are not taking Afghanistan Test lightly. Yes, Virat won’t be available for the Test match but either among Ajinkya or Rohit will lead the side in Virat’s absence,” Rai said.

'Afghanistan Test a chance to create three-tier national team'

"A few (players) will play the Afghanistan Test match and then leave for England. But yes, at least 7 to 8 players, who are all Test team specialists will have to be in England in June,” Rai elaborately explained the arrangement.

“It is important to play red ball cricket in England in June as the entire July will be the limited overs series (three ODIs and 3 T20 Internationals). So in June, they play red ball cricket, switch to white ball in July and then the Test series starts in August.”

What has impressed Rai is that the players understood what they need to do in order to put up a good show in England.

“Virat himself was first to come to me and say that he wanted to play county cricket. And talking to the players, we understood how badly they want to do well in England. Also, this Afghanistan Test will also give us a chance to create a three-tier national team - all of same standard and ability. A few younger players will get a chance to play Test cricket,” Rai said.

There is every possibility that likes of Washington Sundar or Yuzvendra Chahal might get a chance to make their Test debut against Afghanistan along with Shardul Thakur.