India-WI Tests planned for November
The BCCI has planned a Test series at home in November against West Indies, ahead of the scheduled South Africa tour, thus giving Sachin Tendulkar the opportunity to play his landmark 200th Test at home; he will perhaps bid farewell to the game at the end of the Test series.
Tendulkar, who is two Tests short of becoming the first cricketer to feature in 200 Tests, was expected to put an end to his 24-year sojourn at the highest level at the end of the South Africa Test series. The Tests series against West Indies, which will comprise at least two Tests likely to be played in Kolkata and Mumbai in November, offers him a perfect stage to sign off in his hometown.
Following the injury to his left hand while playing for Mumbai Indians against Sunrisers Hyderabad in a league match during IPL 2013, which effectively advanced his IPL retirement, doubts had arisen over the 40-year-old's participation in the South Africa tour. However, after undergoing a surgery on his injured hand, Tendulkar has been included in the Mumbai Indians' squad for the Champions League Twenty20.
Besides achieving the 200-Test landmark, Tendulkar would also be keen to sign off on a high. The veteran batsman has not been able to score a century in his last 38 Test innings, since his memorable knock of 146 in Cape Town in January 2011. The closest he came to a three figures in Tests since then was against West Indies in November 2011, when he edged one to slips six runs short of what would have been his 100th international hundred at the Wankhede Stadium, his home ground.
The BCCI claimed to have received an email from the West Indies Cricket Board confirming its interest in the series, and accordingly placed the proposal before the working committee. The plan for the West Indies series was announced after the BCCI's working committee meeting on Sunday. Though the BCCI did not specify the number of matches that will be played, ESPNcricinfo understands that the WICB have been offered two options. "The tour could see either two Tests and three ODIs, or three Tests," a BCCI official said.
As important as the series is from the Tendulkar angle, the BCCI was also concerned about a possible dip in its revenues for the current financial year since, after the limited-overs series against Australia in October, India weren't scheduled to play at home for the rest of the financial year. "That would have meant lesser gross revenue, and profits as a result, than the last year's," an insider said. "And it is something that none of the stakeholders in Indian cricket would want."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo