India unveil six new test venues for new home season

NEW DELHI: Often accused of not taking cricket's longest format seriously, India unveiled six new test venues on Thursday and announced a busy 2016-17 home season when they will play 13 tests against four visiting teams.

Indore, Rajkot, Vizag, Dharamsala, Ranchi and Pune will host test matches for the first time, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) announced after a meeting of its Tour Programme and Fixtures Committee.

India will also play eight one-day and three Twenty20 Internationals. The only time India played as many as 13 tests at home was in 1979-80.

"I welcome the new test venues hosting this prestigious format of cricket and their arrival will take test match cricket to every corner of the country," BCCI president Anurag Thakur said.

The central Indian city of Indore will debut as a test venue when New Zealand visit later this year to play three tests, one of them likely to be a day-nighter, and five one-day internationals.

The subsequent series against England will see the western Indian city of Rajkot and the coastal venue of Vizag host tests for the first time.

Apart from five tests, England will also play three ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals, according to the BCCI statement.

Set at the foot of the Himalayas, the picturesque Dharamsala will host its first test when Australia arrive in February to play four tests in India.

The series will also feature two new venues -- Ranchi, the home town of India's limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and the western Indian city of Pune.

Bangladesh will play a one-off test at Hyderabad.

"Some of the best teams of world cricket are coming to play in India this season and we are excited to announce the schedule well ahead of time," BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke said.

"This gives the staging associations and the BCCI, sufficient time to prepare and present, one of the most memorable cricketing seasons for our fans."