India begin on Boxing Day

India begin on Boxing Day

Tri-series revived Down Under after four-year hiatus

Former top dogs Australia have slumped to fifth in the world Test rankings and new captain Michael Clarke faces a stiff challenge to salve home fans still smarting from the Ashes debacle, which concluded in January, with victory over the sub-continental power.   

After playing December Tests against New Zealand at the Gabba in Brisbane and Hobart's picturesque Bellerive Oval, Australia play India in Melbourne for the traditional Boxing Day Test before the series moves to Sydney, Perth and Adelaide respectively. 
 
"With the commencement of the ICC World Test Championship, we know that every Test win is vital and the Australian team will be keen to start the home season positively against New Zealand," Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said in a statement. 
 
Australia, who are in the throes of a comprehensive team performance review following their 3-1 loss to England in the Ashes, need to be ranked in the top four to qualify for the ICC's first Test World Championship, slated for 2013.   

Leading one-day international side Australia and World Cup holders India then play two Twenty20 matches in February before being joined by Sri Lanka for 12 one-day matches excluding the finals, in the home side's first tri-series in four years.   

Australia play World Cup finalists Sri Lanka in three Tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches in a tour starting in August but are battling a raft of injuries, including finger complaints for former captain Ricky Ponting and wicket-keeper Brad Haddin.   

The side has also been rocked by huge criticism of team selection policies after 35-year-old opening batsman Simon Katich was denied a central contract, signalling the most likely end of his Test career.   

Schedule for India tour: Test matches: Dec 26-30: I Test (MCG). Jan 3-7, 2012: Second Test (SCG). Jan 13-17: Third Test (WACA). Jan 24-28: Fourth Test (Adelaide Oval).
Twenty20 matches: Feb 1: First T20 (Sydney Olympic Park). Feb 3: Second T20 (MCG).   
Tri-series: Feb 5: Australia vs India (MCG). Feb 8: India vs Sri Lanka (WACA). Feb 10: Australia vs Sri Lanka (WACA). Feb 12: Australia vs India (Adelaide Oval). Feb 14: India vs Sri Lanka (Adelaide Oval). Feb 17: Australia vs Sri Lanka (SCG). Feb 19: Australia vs India (Gabba). Feb 21: India vs Sri Lanka (Gabba). Feb 24: Australia vs Sri Lanka (Bellerive Oval). Feb 26: Australia vs India (SCG). Feb 28: India vs Sri Lanka (Bellerive Oval). Mar 2: Australia vs Sri Lanka (MCG). Mar 4: First final (Gabba). Mar 6: Second final (Adelaide Oval). Mar 8: Third final (Adelaide Oval).

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