India’s fourth Test against Australia at Sydney, starting January 3, 2019, will be the team’s last assignment for six months and the BCCI is likely to prepare a road map for the longest format specialists.
There is a possibility that some of the senior India players may play against England Lions (A team) when they tour India for a full-fledged series in end January-February.
Once India finish their Test engagements against Australia, they will next play the five-day format in July, 2019 against the West Indies in a two-Test series as part of the World Test Championship.
However, a few like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane might have precious little to do once the Ranji Trophy ends in the last week of January.
“The fast bowlers workload management is a different issue but in case of some of the Test specialists, we might play them against England Lions. England Lions are coming for a full series where they will play four day Tests as well as List A and T20 matches,” a BCCI source privy to the development told PTI Saturday.
It is learnt that the selectors might look at Pujara, Rahane and Prithvi Shaw (expected to be fully fit by then) to play the longer format matches.
As of now, Pujara is expected to feature in the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals, starting January 15, as Saurashtra are currently on top of their group with 25 points.
In case of Mumbai, the chances of qualification are bleak as they have only eight points from five games. Rahane, who is not a part of India’s limited overs scheme of things will next play the Mushtaq Ali Trophy followed by IPL for Rajasthan Royals.
Once Saurashtra’s Ranji engagements finish, Pujara will have nothing to do as he has not been picked by any IPL franchise. There is the Mushtaq Ali Trophy but with the IPL auctions over, it will not hold the same kind of importance like last edition.
It’s not that Pujara will need to prove anything to anyone but there is a school of thought that serious match time won’t do any harm to him or for that matter Rahane.