BCCI unofficially ushers in Big Four era with new FTP

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Afghanistan is set to play its debut cricket test next year against India, with dates and a venue expected to be announced soon.

Interestingly, the proposed program does not have a single series between Pakistan and India. The above proposal will be finalised at an ICC meeting in February 2019.

According to details, the new FTP has also provided Indian Premier League (IPL) a bilateral free window, which means no team will be playing any bilateral cricket between April and May. "India has always been supportive to Afghanistan (in terms of cricket)", the former Test opener said.

There is a marginal change in the FTP for home internationals presented at the SGM (19 Tests, 35 ODIs, 27 Twenty20s) and the one circulated to the members before the SGM (19 Tests, 38 ODIs, 28 Twenty20s); the away internationals figures are (18 Tests, 29 ODIs, 26 Twenty20s) - all this works out to 154 worldwide matches for the 2019-23 cycle.

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The new FTP also highlighted the gradual end of five-match ODI bilateral series and a drop in the format completely, with 291 ODIs to be played in the new calendar compared to the current one with 414, highlighting a drop of ten fewer ODIs per year (82.8 to 72.75). Nonetheless, the new FTP allows both to cut their teeth in Test cricket, albeit at a slower pace compared to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe - the last three entrants into the format.

The BCCI, on its part, is in no mood of budging from its stance, saying India would not play Pakistan outside ICC events unless Indian government approves it. Even Zimbabwe (40), Afghanistan (41) and Ireland (42) will have more matches than Pakistan in the four-year cycle. In 2022-23, Pakistan will host England and New Zealand for home series, and tour Sri Lanka for the away series to complete the second cycle of Test Championship.

India will play more global games than any other nation in the new FTP, including a whopping 61 T20Is compared to Australia's 41.

After the ICC World Cup in England in June-July, India starts with a series in the West Indies (2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 3T20Is). Since then, the two neighbours have only met in ICC events.

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