India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is expected to join the team ahead of the rescheduled first Test, commencing on December 9.
Owing to a hand injury, Dhoni had not been named in the original squad for the first Test, earlier scheduled to be played in Brisbane from December 4. He was earlier expected to join the team for the ‘second Test’ in Adelaide, which was originally starting on December 12.
The tragic demise of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes resulted in the rescheduling of the four-match Test series.
Thus, now the Indian captain will be able to join the team sometime this week, before the Test series begins.
As per the new schedule released by Cricket Australia late last night, the first Test of the four-match series will now be played in Adelaide from December 9-12, while second game will be held at Gabba in Brisbane from December 17-21.
The Boxing Day Test – the third one of the 2014-15 Border-Gavaskar Trophy – was the only Test whose schedule has remained unchanged. It will start in Melbourne on December 26.
The fourth Test will be played in Sydney but with a delay of three days, now starting on January 6 instead of January 3.
The Indian team will be playing its second practice match at the Glenelg Oval in sub-urban Adelaide ahead of the first Test. It will be a two-day game, beginning December 4. The opposition for that tie will be another Cricket Australia XI, though it will expectantly be devoid of any big names since the players are in mourning. India’s second tour-game had got cancelled after Hughes’ death.
Dhoni, however, will be unavailable for the practice game as he is not likely to join before December 4.
Indian team spokesperson Dr. Redhills Baba said that the skipper, though, will join the team well ahead of the first Test, which means stand-in captain Virat Kohli will not lead the side when the series gets underway at the Adelaide Oval.
Meanwhile, Kohli will be attending Hughes’ funeral in the late cricketer’s home-town, Macksville on Wednesday. He will be joined by batsmen Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay, along with team director Ravi Shastri, Coach Duncan Fletcher and team manager Arshad Ayub.
The team management expects Kohli, Sharma and Vijay to return in time for the two-day tour game, which is scheduled on Thursday.
The entire Australian cricketing fraternity will be attending the funeral, which will begin in the afternoon and will be televised by major channels. The Australian Test squad is then expected to travel to Adelaide on Thursday and then begin preparations for the Test series.
However, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has stated that “any grieving player is free to pull out of the match or indeed the Test series”.
“Right now there’s a funeral on Wednesday and let’s just understand that’s going to be difficult enough as it is,” Sutherland said at a press conference this morning in Sydney before departing for Macksville.