Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
India women are likely to tour Sri Lanka for eight limited-overs matches, starting late November, but substantial logistical hurdles must be surmounted before the fixtures can be confirmed.
A Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the boards were in talks over the tour, comprising five ODIs and three T20Is, and that both SLC and BCCI were committed to organising the bilateral series. Neither team has played any international cricket since the T20 World Cup, which ended in early March.
But the major sticking point may be the 14-day quarantine the Sri Lankan health ministry is likely to impose once any visiting side enters the country. As per the terms of this strict quarantine, players may have to isolate in hotel rooms and might not be allowed to train. A quarantine requirement of that nature and length turned out to be a dealbreaker for the Bangladesh men's team, whose tour of Sri Lanka - pencilled in for October-November - was postponed indefinitely. The major concern for the BCB was that a two-week confinement would be to the detriment of the touring team's fitness (both physical and mental) and preparation.
SLC hoped Sri Lanka's health authorities may yet relax quarantine rules. But news emerging over the weekend that community transmission of Covid-19 has begun again in parts of Sri Lanka - though in smaller scale than in many other nations - could cast further doubts over the viability of the tour.
The Indian board has not made any official announcement on the tour yet, but ESPNcricinfo understands that if the tour goes ahead, the Indian squad may even travel to Sri Lanka directly from the UAE, following the conclusion of the Women's T20 Challenge, set to take place from November 4-9 on the sidelines of the IPL playoffs. At least two Sri Lankan cricketers are also likely to take part in the domestic T20 competition.
It is also understood that talks over India's potential bilateral series against South Africa and West Indies are also a long way from coming to fruition. Earlier, in July, the Indian board withdrew from the tour of England despite reports the ECB were willing to make requisite travel and accommodation arrangements in line with standard Covid-19 safety protocols.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka, who were eliminated in the league stage of the T20 World Cup, were due to host the 2021 Women's ODI World Cup Qualifiers in July, but the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to those plans. The postponement of the 2021 ODI World Cup subsequently thrust much of the future of top-level women's international cricket for the rest of the year into uncertainty, outside of the recently concluded West Indies tour of England and the ongoing Australian home series against New Zealand.