ICC Test Championship may not include Ind-Pak match-ups

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MUMBAI: The ICC’s newly announced Test championship, that is scheduled to commence after the 2019 World Cup, will not include an India-Pakistan bilateral series.

An Indian Express report says the ICC is not expected to slot any India-Pakistan Test series in the Future Tours Programme (FTP) draft that it is working on, pending the BCCI's reluctance to give a nod for ties between the two countries.

The BCCI had explained its stand on the issue in the ICC meeting in Auckland in October.

BCCI officials told the newspaper, “As per the Test championship draft, it says, a Test team has to play with six Test playing nations in four year cycle. So India can play with Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Test championship cycle. It leaves no window for us with Pakistan. The board can’t do anything other than requesting Indian government. The day government gives clearance we are ready to play. At the moment India will not play Pakistan in Test championship."

While BCCI has agreed to play against Pakistan in any of the ICC tournaments, the board has also ruled out series at neutral venues with Pakistan. The board, the report adds, is looking at the new Test championship as the model of Big Three where India, England and Australia would decide whom to play in their cricketing calendar.

The format of the Test championship has nine teams playing six series over the two-year period — three each home and away — with each series having a minimum of two Tests and a maximum of five.

The top two teams will contest a play-off final to determine the Test champions in England in June 2021. In case, India and Pakistan do make it to the final, the chance of the two arch rival playing the title contest are high since that would be seen as an ICC event.