While India’s cricket consciousness may currently be consumed by the Indian Premier League, the next matches for the national side have now been confirmed. India have been out of action since losing to the West Indies in the semifinals of the World Twenty20 on home soil at the end of March, before almost immediately the 2016 IPL season got underway, keeping the focus on the shortest form of the game. And India’s cricketers will remain in T20 mode after the IPL concludes, with three T20 internationals confirmed for the tour of Zimbabwe next month.
The original tour schedule, via the International Cricket Council’s Future Tours Program, had called for one Test match and three One Day Internationals. But the Test has now been scrapped, replaced by the T20Is. It is believed that the decision to change came from Zimbabwe. It also came on the same day that Zimbabwe were removed from the Test rankings after failing to play the required eight Tests during the rating period.
“After finalizing all the formalities with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, we are pleased to announce the incoming tour scheduled for this June," Wilfred Mukondiwa, the Zimbabwe Cricket managing director, said in a statement.
All the matches will be played at the Harare Sports Club, where India also played three ODIs and two T20Is last July. India made the trip to Zimbabwe on that occasion with a second-string squad that did not include the likes of limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Test skipper Virat Kohli. Ajinkya Rahane captained the side.
It has not yet been disclosed what sort of squad India will take this time around, however there must be a temptation to give the top players a rest. It has certainly been a packed recent schedule for the likes of Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, who have play all forms of the game, and have contested the Asia Cup, World T20 and now IPL.
And India have tougher challenges upcoming in the rest of 2016. In July, the team is scheduled to head to the West Indies for four Test matches, before traveling to Bangladesh for a solitary Test in August. Then in October will come a series with New Zealand before the year closes out with the showpiece visit of England.
What is clear is that Dhoni, who stepped away from Test cricket at the end of 2014, will continue to lead the limited-overs sides. The 34-year-old has long since faced speculation over his future, but his guidance of the team through some high-pressure situations at the World T20 saw him come out and declare that he can keep going until the next 50-over World Cup in 2019.
Even if Dhoni and the other stars don’t make it to Zimbabwe. India will expect to come out on top. Zimbabwe fell at the preliminary round of the World T20 after a loss to Afghanistan, while in the 50-over format, Zimbabwe’s last two series have seen them lose to Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
India tour of Zimbabwe schedule
June 11: First ODI
June 13: Second ODI
June 15: Third ODI
June 18: First T20I
June 20: Second T20I
June 22: Third T20I