India news March 1, 2013

India could shorten NZ tour for Asia Cup

Sidharth Monga and Nagraj Gollapudi

India's full tour of New Zealand in early 2014 is likely to be trimmed to two Tests, two ODIs and two T20Is to enable the team to participate in the Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in India in February-March. The ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP) has India scheduled to play three Tests, five ODIs and a single Twenty20 international at that time and the BCCI, committed in principle to hosting the Asia Cup, has been in negotiations with NZC.

So far no formal agreement has been reached between the boards, but ESPNcricinfo understands that the new trimmed New Zealand schedule will have a maximum of 14 days of international cricket against the 21 originally penned in the FTP. Incidentally, both the New Zealand tour and the Asia Cup will be broadcast by NEO. It has been reliably learned that in the contract that Nimbus, owners of NEO, signed, it was made aware of a possible change in the original itinerary for the New Zealand tour. Nimbus announced the new deal two days ago, committing to broadcast to India all international cricket from New Zealand till 2020.

For the administrators in New Zealand, it is a matter of relief there is any tour at all: sources in NZC have told ESPNcricinfo there was concern over the tour being called off but several months of negotiations between the two boards - including one-on-ones at ICC meetings - ensured an amicable arrangement for all parties. The representatives of both boards have been individually discussing the matter during ICC meetings.

It is not yet known if the BCCI will compensate the NZC: India tours are a major source of revenue for all boards given the high TV viewership in India and a large expatriate community settled all over the cricketing world.

India have a busy first half of 2014. They return from South Africa towards the end of January, are scheduled to go to New Zealand in February, and then go to Bangladesh either side of the IPL for the World Twenty20 and a short three-ODI series. The schedule has been made tighter by the Asian Cricket Council's (ACC) offer to India to host the Asia Cup in February-March, which the BCCI is likely to take up.