For the first time in history, India to host a Test in August

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced yesterday that India will host New Zealand for two Tests and two T20 Internationals in August-September, England for four Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is from November to January, before hosting Australia for another four Tests that will conclude in March. Surely, a cricket lover cannot complain.

But the BCCI might have erred in their decision to hand Hyderabad a Test match in the fourth week of August, when it’s the monsoon season in VVS Laxman’s hometown.

Washed Out: Workers pull a plastic sheet to cover the pitch. representation pic

This will be the first ever Test in India to be hosted in the month of August.

There’s a strange connection between New Zealand and Hyderabad. They are the only nation to play a Test match in the city — three at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium (previously called Fateh Maidan) and the latest at Uppal in 2010.

Various New Zealand Test teams from over the years haven’t had the rub of the green going their way in Hyderabad. In 1955-56, Harry Cave’s side were on the receiving end of Polly Umrigar’s career-best knock of 223.

But, in 1969-70, Dayle Hadlee’s lethal spells had India bowled out for 89 in the first innings, and restricted to 76-7 in the second, but rain gods denied New Zealand their first-ever series triumph on Indian soil. However, in 1988-89, John Wright’s side were thumped by a 10-wicket margin. And in 2010, during the inaugural Test at the new ground in Uppal, New Zealand enjoyed a healthy position in the Test until Harbhajan Singh’s century helped India secure a draw.

‘BCCI’s hands are tied’
Former India spinner Venkatapathy Raju, a Hyderabad local, sympathised with BCCI’s Tour, Programme and Fixtures Committee. “Unfortunately, their hands are tied. Because of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup scheduled in September, we are forced to squeeze in the New Zealand matches before that. Also because of the rotation policy, Hyderabad was due for a Test match this year.

Unfortunately, it is being staged in the peak monsoon season,” Raju told MiD DAY.

Raju stressed on the risk. “Many times, Chennai used to host a match around Pongal time (in December-January) and a lot of those matches were washed out. It’s definitely a risk but the BCCI can’t help it. Test matches anyway don’t get good crowds these days,” added Raju. 

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