INDIAN CRICKET is likely to make its first official foray into American soil, with MS Dhoni & Co set to play a short T20 series against the West Indies in Florida in late August. The Indian Test team is presently involved in a four-Test series in the Caribbean, which concludes on August 22 at Port-of-Spain in Trinidad. It’s learnt the Indian board was keen on playing a few T20s against the world champions at the Central Broward Regional Park at Lauderhill in Florida, which is presently hosting six Caribbean Premier League (CPL) matches. Sources, however, indicated it’s not clear whether it will end up being a bilateral series, with a T20 tri-series involving Bangladesh being the other alternative.
Indian Express tried to contact BCCI president Anurag Thakur but he was unavailable for comment. But other sources have confirmed that talks are very much on to make this series happen and a meeting will take place in Lauderhill late on Tuesday night to decide the final schedule.
“West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) officials will be meeting in Florida to sort it out. We are just waiting for the green signal. It’s amber already, you can say. The matches will likely be played over the last weekend of August. It will be peak summer in Florida, and it will be a spectacle. However, there is slight chance of Bangladesh being invited as the third team for a tri-series,” the source said.
Considering that not many members of the Indian Test team feature in the shortest format, they will return home according to the original schedule, and if the series in USA is confirmed, the BCCI will be flying out a full-strength T20 team that will include the likes of Dhoni. It’ll be the same for the West Indies, as they will welcome back their high-profile T20 stars who won them the World T20 trophy only four months back. The CPL is set to conclude on August 7.
The BCCI had originally planned a mini-IPL, with the USA a potential venue, but then had to call it off due to lack of time. But it’s learnt that the Indian board is keen to cash in on this opportunity. Sources say the WICB has agreed to host the BCCI in Florida as part of their campaign to make up for the West Indies team pulling out midway from their tour of India in 2014, an abandonment that cost the Indian board millions. It’s understood that the BCCI will take away a major revenue share from this short series as compensation for the loss incurred by them in 2014.
“Since the BCCI had to call off the mini-IPL, it’s understandable that they are keen on taking cricket to the USA, and this is a great chance to sell this series as a contest between heavyweights India and world champions West Indies, who only a few months ago met in a dramatic World T20 semifinal. Considering that Florida houses a huge number of Indian and West Indian expats, if this series does happen, we could well be looking at this becoming an annual fixture,” the source added.
The Central Broward Regional Park is a $70 million facility that has hosted four international T20s in the past, all featuring New Zealand. The Kiwis took on Sri Lanka in a two-match series in 2010 before facing the West Indians in July 2012, and the matches were played in front of full houses. Late last year, the USA got to see the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne among a galaxy of former stars during the Cricket All Stars series, which was played in New York, Los Angeles and Houston.