Australian Test summer to begin against Afghanistan, with India series to start at the Gabba

Australia have not lost a Test in Brisbane since being defeated by West Indies in 1988

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The Gabba will host the first instalment of a four-match series between Australia and India later this year, it has been confirmed.

The news came as part of the release of Cricket Australia’s schedule for the upcoming international summer, although a caveat still remains in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the staging of games – a point reiterated by CA chief executive Kevin Roberts.

“While acknowledging the difficulty in navigating a global pandemic, we are nonetheless encouraged by the progress Australia is making in combating the coronavirus and the positive impact that is having on our ability to host an exciting summer of cricket in 2020-21,” he said in a statement.

“We know that circumstances or events beyond our control could mean that the final schedule potentially may look different to the one released today, but we'll be doing everything we can to get as much international cricket in as possible this summer.

“We will communicate any changes to the schedule if or when they are required.”

For the moment, however, a jampacked fixture schedule has been unveiled, with games – men’s or women’s – taking place in every month between August and February.

As well as facing India and Afghanistan in Test matches, the men’s side will take on India, New Zealand and Zimbabwe in ODIs, along with T20Is against India, New Zealand and West Indies.

The women’s team, whose last game before the coronavirus outbreak struck came in their T20 World Cup final victory, have ODIs in place against India and New Zealand in preparation for the 2021 World Cup, as well as a T20I series against New Zealand.

As it stands, the Men’s T20 World Cup, which is due to be hosted by Australia in October and November, remains a part of the schedule.

As for the four-match Test series against India – the centre-point of the fixture list, Australia have not lost a Test in Brisbane since being defeated by West Indies in 1988 – a run that stretches back 31 games. When India last travelled to face Australia for a series at the end of 2018, none of the four Tests took place at the Gabba.

In January, India captain Virat Kohli insisted that whichever venues were picked for the games would not matter to him or to his team, stating: “Whether it is the Gabba or Perth, it doesn't matter to us. We have the skillsets as a team to compete against anyone in the world anywhere, whether it is white ball, pink ball or red ball. We are absolutely up for it.”

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Meg Lanning's side played their last game in front of a packed MCG to retain their T20 World Cup crown

Before that particular contest can get underway, however, Tim Paine’s side will face Afghanistan in a one-off Test in Perth – the first time that the two nations will have faced each other in the longest format. A day-night game, it will begin on November 21 ahead of the series with India, which starts on December 3.

The remainder of the series against Kohli’s men will take place at Adelaide – another day-night match, Melbourne and Sydney.

Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive Lutfullah Stanikzai said of the announcement: “Australia is a strong side in world cricket. However, our team will also be well prepared. The match will provide a great experience to them.”

Since playing their first Test in June 2018, they have played three more since, winning twice – against Ireland and Bangladesh – and losing heavily against India and West Indies.

Full schedule below:

Gillette Men's ODI Series v Zimbabwe

First ODI: August 9, TBC

Second ODI: August 12, TBC

Third ODI: August 15, Riverway Stadium, Townsville

CommBank Women's T20 Series v New Zealand

First T20: September 27, North Sydney Oval

Second T20: September 29, North Sydney Oval

Third T20: October 1, North Sydney Oval

Gillette Men's T20 INTL Series v West Indies

First T20: October 4, Riverway Stadium, Townsville

Second T20: October 6, Cazaly's Stadium, Cairns

Third T20: October 9, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast

CommBank Women's ODI Series v New Zealand

First ODI: October 5, Riverway Stadium, Townsville

Second ODI: October 7, Cazaly's Stadium, Cairns

Third ODI: October 10, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast

Gillette Men's T20 INTL Series v India

First T20: October 11, the Gabba, Brisbane

Second T20: October 14, Manuka Oval, Canberra

Third T20: October 17, Adelaide Oval

Men's T20 World Cup

The men's T20 World Cup is scheduled from October 18 to November 15

Men's Test v Afghanistan

Only Test: November 21-25, Perth Stadium (day-night)

Men's Test Series v India

First Test: December 3-7, the Gabba, Brisbane

Second Test: December 11-15, Adelaide Oval (day-night)

Third Test: December 26-30, MCG

Fourth Test: January 3-7, SCG

Gillette Men's ODI Series v India

First ODI: January 12, Perth Stadium

Second ODI: January 15, MCG

Third ODI: January 17, SCG

CommBank Women's ODI Series v India

First ODI: January 22, Manuka Oval, Canberra

Second ODI: January 25, Junction Oval, Melbourne

Third ODI: January 28, Blundstone Arena, Hobart

Gillette Men's ODI Series v New Zealand

First ODI: January 26, Adelaide Oval

Second ODI: January 29, Manuka Oval, Canberra

Third ODI: January 31, Blundstone Arena, Hobart

Gillette Men's T20 v New Zealand

Only T20: February 2, SCG 

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