By Abhijit Banare
While 2013 had something in store for each team, 2014 brings forth more exciting duels in international cricket. While a few tours will build up through the year, there are a few in the Futures Tour Programmes which many of you would be eager to look forward to. Below are a few series and tournaments to watch out for. The first half of the year has exciting encounters lined up, but the latter half can be slightly dull considering that no two formidable teams on paper will be against each other.
1. Australia take on the World No 1 Test team
India gave a tough fight to Test Champions South Africa but finally caved in to the pressure exerted by their world class fast bowlers — Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. However, their next duel is going to be a step further as two teams with jaw dropping pace bowlers will fight it out on pacer-friendly wickets in three Test matches.
After a lopsided Ashes, everyone’s looking forward to this clash between two strong teams. Australia have created a momentum which they will be hungry to carry forward in the several series to come.
2. ICC World Twenty20 2014
International fixtures will be warmed up with the T20 World Cup. 2013 was not much about memorable T20 matches. But it will be a fierce battle with each team having enough fire to keep the tournament interesting. Pakistan have always been a side to reckon with. Australia, South Africa have interesting line-ups to power themselves in the subcontinent. Indians as always look solid on paper. Even though the venues have been dodgy considering the unstable situation in Bangladesh, it is going to be a high-scoring affair.
3. A healthy Indian Premier League awaits after delayed cure?
After all the murky details that unfolded over the spot-fixing row in the 2013 edition, it will be interesting to see how this year’s edition is received by the cricket fans. Cricket plunged into a credibility crisis last time around. But the Indian board will be on its toes to safeguard the interests of its cash cow. With the auctions and the new format of retaining players, one can expect a lot of shuffle of players between the teams. India will yet again witness a heavy dose of T20 cricket.
4. India challenge England with renewed vigour
It is going to be yet another litmus test for MS Dhoni and co. travelling to England for a full length series. The drubbing received last time around will be echoing in the mind of Dhoni. This time around, there’s no Rahul Dravid or any other senior. India’s young brigade showed great promise on South African pitches and will be keen to prove their mettle against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. It will be the first full length international tour India will be playing in 2014. Hence there will be a lot to look forward to for India’s future stars.
5. India end year with one more overseas tour
After the England dose, India will be traveling to Australia. By the time the tour comes knocking, Indian cricket would have undergone considerable change. With each victory and defeat having its own impact grabbing headlines, it is likely to be a key series. Moreover, India will be heading to the World Cup after the series against Australia and the marquee tournament is going to be held Down Under.
Other key series:
The Asia Cup preceding the World T20 is the one to watch out for, but the itinerary is still in a messy state. There will be a lot to look forward to for Pakistan in the latter half of the year when they will tour Australia and New Zealand. England will host two series against subcontinent nations — India and Sri Lanka. Almost all of the teams will have an eye on the preparations for ICC World Cup 2015. Yet another year to look forward to and hopefully one gets to see interesting clashes across formats.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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