Thirty-two cricketers, including India ‘A’ players, will fly to Australia from Dubai after the IPL when Virat Kohli leads the team for its first international assignment during the pandemic. The selectors are being practical by picking the largest-ever contingent as it would be risky to fly in injury replacements in the middle of the tour as players will be in a bio-bubble after the first fortnight of quarantine.

The two-month tour will comprise three T20 Internationals, three ODIs and four Test matches and the teams for the three formats will be picked at one go.

Travelling with a big squad will also ensure enough players on tour for practice games between Indian players before the Test matches, which are scheduled for mid-December. The total number is set to cross 50 as the support staff and selectors will also travel.

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However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) won’t be allowing families to travel for the tour. For the IPL, the BCCI left it to the teams to take a decision on wives being allowed to travel to the UAE.

The tour is scheduled to begin with the T20 Internationals in the third week of November, but Cricket Australia has not yet finalised the itinerary. The IPL final will be held in Dubai on November 10. The senior selection committee, which could meet in coming days, has been informally informed by the BCCI to pick a large squad for the entire Australia tour.

“They (selection committee) have been told to pick as large a squad as they want. We want back-up players ready and in Australia right through the tour. If a player gets injured, there shouldn’t be a situation where we have to call for a player from India. In normal times we could send a player from India as a replacement but during these times, with quarantine rules in place, we don’t want to be in a situation where we are short of players,” a BCCI official stated.

It is learnt that players who are not likely to play the Test series will be sent home after white-ball cricket is over, once selectors retain enough reserves, who will stay back in Australia.

The BCCI is expecting CA to release the dates of the matches later this week. What Cricket Australia has confirmed is that the first Test match will be a day-night affair in Adelaide.

“Cricket Australia has sent us an itinerary. We will play three T20Is, three ODIs and four Tests there. The first Test will be a day-night game in Adelaide. The dates haven’t been finalised yet,” BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had told The Indian Express earlier this week after the BCCI’s Apex Council meeting on Saturday.

The BCCI has also asked Cricket Australia for changes in the 14-day quarantine policy for Indian players. The BCCI wants Indian players to undergo quarantine for seven days, after which they be allowed to use training facilities, while being in a bio-secure bubble facility.

The board is also planning to arrange a few practice games for Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari in Dubai, two Test match specialists who are not part of the IPL. A BCCI official also said that chances are that the Indian team will have a short camp in Dubai before flying to Australia.

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