England men's upcoming tour of India in February-March 2021 will feature four Tests instead of the five originally, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly confirmed on Tuesday.
With 2021 being a T20 World Cup year - India is slated to host it in October-November - the extra Test has now been scrapped to accommodate two additional T20Is. That means the tour, which the BCCI hopes to host entirely in India, now comprises four Tests, three ODIs and five T20Is.
England were earlier scheduled to tour in India for three T20Is and as many ODIs in September, but it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty over the status of the 2020 T20 World Cup, which was scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November.
"England is touring India for four Test matches, three ODIs, and five T20Is," Ganguly said at a virtual event. "It is easier to have bilaterals than having eight-nine-ten teams, which gets difficult, but we have to keep assessing the situation.
"A lot of people are talking about the second Covid wave. We're already hearing of cases being on the rise again in Mumbai and Delhi, so we have to be careful and make sure everything is in order."
As such, the UAE, which hosted IPL 2020, continues to remain a back-up venue, not just for the England series but also IPL 2021 that will follow immediately.
"The next IPL is five months away and we're very much trying to have it in India," Ganguly said. "I always tell people that they need to be here to see what the IPL means to India. We're also going to be hosting domestic cricket in India."
The details of the domestic season haven't been announced yet, although it is understood that the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the domestic T20 competition, and the Ranji Trophy, the first-class competition, are the only two tournaments that can be accommodated in a short window. Plans for Under-19s and the women's season are still being worked out.
"We have had extensive discussions on domestic cricket and we have tentatively decided to start the competitions from January 1, 2021," Ganguly had told PTI in October. "We will certainly have the full-fledged Ranji Trophy. [But] it will probably not be possible to hold all tournaments.
"We also have elaborate plans for our age-group and women's cricket. We will start with the Ranji Trophy and then we will also have the other tournaments between March and April."