Ahead of the four-match cricket Test series against top-ranked India later this month, Australia will aim to try and sort out their combination when they take on India A in a three-day practice match, starting at the Brabourne Stadium here from Friday.
The Steve Smith-led visitors, who have four frontline spinners in their squad — Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe, Ashton Agar and Matthew Renshaw — besides all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, will focus mainly on getting their slow bowling combination in place before the taxing series.
The match will also provide first-timers like Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Peter Handscomb, Agar and Jackson Bird an opportunity to learn the nuances of playing in sub-continent conditions before the first Test starts in Pune from February 23.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mathew Wade, who was part of the Kangaroos squad that received a shaming 0-4 drubbing in 2013, said he will stick to his basics, considering the turn and low bounce of the pitches here in India.
“It’s trying to get all that out of your mind and stick to the basics. The ball that turns and bounces, you’ll react if your technique is good. It’s about trying to hone my technique in the next week or two, then when you do get one that spits out of the rough, it’s just trusting your technique,” Wade was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Thursday.
“But I quite enjoy keeping over here. The ball beats the bat a lot more up to the stumps so that’s probably the challenge. In Australia, the ball doesn’t beat the bat consistently, so it’s hard to get a consistent rhythm up to the stumps.”
“Here you are obviously in the game a lot more. It’s definitely tougher in India. There will be balls that are going to hit the rough and go down, there’s one that’s going to go over the top of your head,” he added.
Wade, who missed the recent Chappell-Hadlee Trophy against New Zealand due to a back injury, said playing in India is more of a mental challenge than physical.
“Stuff’s going to happen in this country, I understand that. It’s a challenge mentally more than physically,” he said.
“It’s about trying to stay up and about for four Tests in a row in a tough country, against a really good opposition. So I’ve got to be prepared for that and obviously coming here before makes a big difference. I know what I’m up for now, which is good,” he added.
On the other hand, the Hardik Pandya-led India A side will be looking to repeat their performance which they displayed against Bangladesh in the practice match.
The team boasts of some promising batsmen in Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan and Priyank Panchal, who are on the radar of the national selectors for quite some time.
The bowling department will be led by experienced Bengal pacer Ashoke Dinda along with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav and left-arm orthodox Shabaz Nadeem, who has over 300 first-class wickets.
Having lost their last nine Tests in India, the visitors, who have a mix of experience and youngsters, will now look for a change in their fortunes in the ongoing tour.
India A: Hardik Pandya (Captain), Akhil Herwadkar, Priyank Kirit Panchal, Shreyas Iyer, Ankit Bawne, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan (Wicketkeeper), Shahbaz Nadeem, Krishnappa Gowtham, Krishnappa Gowtham, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Ashok Dinda, Mohammed Siraj, Rahul Singh, Baba Indrajith.
Australia: Steve Smith (Captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Stephen O’Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade (Wicketkeeper).