Cricket Australia confirmed Wednesday that India will play a four-Test series on their upcoming tour Down Under, including the traditional Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, which had been under threat due to a coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement came hours after Australia’s second-largest city exited a months-long lockdown, allowing the Melbourne Cricket Ground to stage the December 26 fixture.
CA said crowd numbers at the 100,000-capacity MCG would be capped at 25,000 for one of the marquee events of the Australian sporting calendar.
“Australia and India represents one of the great rivalries in world sport and we are delighted to welcome Virat Kohli’s outstanding squad to Australian shores this summer,” CA chief Nick Hockley said.
Wrangling over quarantine requirements and the Melbourne virus outbreak had delayed confirmation of detailed plans for the tour, which will generate much-needed revenue for CA.
The pandemic has already scuppered plans to host the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, New Zealand and the T20 World Cup this year.
A similar fate for the India tour would have been a financial disaster for CA and Hockley said the organisation spent months working with the Board of Control for Cricket in India to ensure it went ahead.
“I cannot speak more highly of the professional, thorough and collaborative manner with which they have approached this tour in these extraordinary and complex times,” he said.
The series begins with India’s first day-night Test in Australia at the Adelaide Oval on December 17, followed by Melbourne before moving to Sydney on January 7 with the tour finale at Brisbane’s Gabba on January 15.
Neither side has lost a day-night Test previously, with the Australian men’s team winning all four pink-ball Tests in Adelaide against New Zealand, South Africa, England and Pakistan.
India defeated Bangladesh in their only day-night encounter at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens last year.
Pandemic permitting, the India squad will arrive on November 12 and complete quarantine and Covid-19 protocols before the first of three one-day internationals on November 27.
After three 50-over games and three Twenty20s in Sydney and Canberra, the tour will move to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for the Tests.