BCCI hopeful of Virat Kohli's presence in the Duleep Trophy
As well as boosting the tournament's image, the BCCI is hoping that the tournament help Indian players prepare for pink ball cricket.
With the BCCI's plans for staging a mini-IPL later this year all but over, the national board is hoping that prominent members of the Indian side, including Test skipper Virat Kohli, turns up for the Duleep Trophy, which will be held for the first time under lights with the pink ball being used.
As well as adding a much-needed fanfare for a tournament that has been struggling to draw in big crowds in spite of its rich history, the BCCI is hoping that the experience of playing with the pink ball will hold the Indian players in good stead as they inch nearer and nearer to their first ever day-night Test.
With the BCCI planning to hold the Duleep trophy at the end of August or early September, the tournament will serve as the ideal training environment for India’s pink ball Test match against New Zealand, expected to be held at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, in September or October.
"Don't be surprised if the likes of Kohli play the Duleep Trophy this year. With a lack of clarity on the mini-IPL, the top players are expected to play the Duleep Trophy. This is a good opportunity for the players to get an exposure with the pink ball before India hosts a pink-ball Test at home," a top BCCI official was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
The Indian team are currently in the West Indies preparing for the upcoming four-match Test series against the hosts. They will then return to India for a bumper home-season which will see Virat Kohli’s men embark on a run of 13 Tests at home with series lined up against the Black Caps, England and Australia as well as a one-off Test against Bangladesh.
While there are suggestions that the Indian players should take time off after the tour to the West Indies, the BCCI is of the opinion that the players should feature in the Duleep Trophy as they aim to popularise pink-ball cricket in India.
As for the venues for the 55-year-old tournament, the BCCI, as of now, is planning to hold the tournament in the South Zone with Hyderabad and Vishakapatnam being the possible venues with the possibility that Indore and Jaipur could also be added if the need be.
"BCCI hasn't shortlisted any venue for the event. The tournament is likely to be held in South Zone only. If the board wants to keep a larger pool of venues, Central Zone could be added," the official added.