W2W4: Series decider in Dharamsala, friendly in Cambodia

AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi

It is now over to Dharamsala to decide the fate of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. And with the I-League taking a break, the Indian football team is in Cambodia to play an international friendly. Indian fans can also look forward to shooting, hockey and more over the next seven days.


India vs Australia, 4th Test

Starts Saturday, March 25, Dharamsala

Notable storylines: Australia's dogged batting on the last day in Ranchi -- they lost only four wickets all day -- means the series remains tied at 1-1 and the Dharamsala Test becomes all-important. With the Aussies showing more fight than is expected of teams visiting India, it's the hosts who might be feeling a bit of pressure now.

Of note: Dharamsala will become the 27th venue in India to have hosted a Test match, in what will be the 13th and final match in the longest format being hosted by India in their season. The Dharamsala wicket, which has seen international action in limited-overs matches in the past, is normally known to assist pace and seam over spin. But India might be tempted to prepare a track with more help for their spin twins of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.


Cambodia vs India, international friendly

Wednesday, March 22, Phnom Penh

Notable storylines: The I-League takes a break as the Indian national team gets together for two matches, their first since a 4-1 win over Puerto Rico in Mumbai last September. The first of those matches is a friendly against Cambodia, whom they beat 6-0 the last time they met in 2007, which will be followed in a week's time by their first Asian Cup 2019 qualifier away to Myanmar.

Of note: Coach Stephen Constantine has been an unapologetic supporter of youth since taking over in his second stint with the Indian team. His selection for Cambodia and Myanmar has continued with that theme, with young defenders Nishu Kumar, Jerry Lalrinzuala and midfielder Milan Singh getting the nod for the squad. The attacking line will be led by Sunil Chhetri, and with Jeje Lalpekhlua a bit off colour in recent times, Robin Singh might have a shot at returning to the Indian team for the first time since December 2015.


ISSF Shotgun World Cup

Continues Monday, March 20, Acapulco, Mexico

Notable storylines: Olympian Kynan Chenai leads the charge for India's 10-member contingent in Mexico. After the first day of men's trap qualification, he was in the 11th place. A good show on the second day of qualification on Monday morning (late evening Indian time) could see him climb up to the sixth position and fight for India's first medal at the competition later in the day.

Of note: The rest of the week sees medals up for grabs in the men's double trap, skeet for both men and women, as well as a test event in the shape of the mixed team trap. The Indians who will be in business in these events include Shapath Bharadwaj and Ankur Mittal, whose men's double trap event takes place on Wednesday. Rashmmi Rathore is the lone Indian woman in the fray, and her skeet final takes place on Saturday.


India Women against Canada and Chile, Tests

Start Saturday, March 25, West Vancouver

Notable storylines: India are coming into the two matches against Canada and Chile hoping to fine-tune their preparations for the Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 which begins at the same venue the following week, where India are hoping for a top-two finish to stay in contention for a place in the World League Semifinals later this year. Former captain Ritu Rani has returned to the squad and will add great value with her experience to a team that recently blanked Belarus 5-0 in a Test series at home. Belarus are one of the teams India will come up against in the HWL.

Of note: The Test matches, and the HWL games that follow, will be the first on overseas soil under new coach Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne. Marijne has been advocating a Dutch style of play for his team, which could see the pace of play for Indian teams go up significantly. How much the team has embraced their coach's philosophy will be visible in Canada.