India prepare for Tests against inconsequential tour-game opposition
Eyeing a maiden Test series win in Australia, India will look to make the most of their only warm-up game, beginning, in Sydney, on Wednesday against Cricket Australia XI.
The four-Test series starts in Adelaide on December 6.
As is the want of the Indian side, the match has not been accorded First-Class status, allowing all players of the touring party to participate in the game.
The Cricket Australia XI is also a team-sheet of names inconsequential to the upcoming Test series, barring perhaps D'Arcy Short who was part of the recently concluded T20I series.
For India, this is a chance to get their game face on and also make the transition from white-ball to red-ball cricket for the final time this season.
After this series, there is a long limited-overs' schedule until the 2019 ODI World Cup. But before focus turns to that quadrennial tournament, there is the small matter of preparing well for a last overseas Test series to be played this year.
After enjoying a day of rest post the tied T20I series, all travelling members were back in action as the Indian team trained hard for nearly three hours on Tuesday to get back into long-form groove.
There were a couple noticeable pointers – Murali Vijay batting in tandem with KL Rahul, hinting at a possible reunion at the top of the order.
All primary batsmen had a long outing against left-arm throw-down specialist Nuwan Seneviratne, who is a recent import from Sri Lanka, in a bid to get used to this particular angle of delivery in anticipation of facing Mitchell Starc.
The other noticeable preparation was against off-spin. Washington Sundar has stayed on until November 29, to help with bowling duties in the nets. Along with R Ashwin plus a couple of net spinners, he bowled to a rough outside off-stump to most batsmen.
Primary amongst them was skipper Virat Kohli who started off proceedings with throw-downs and then quickly moved to the spin nets. This is seen as possible preparation against Nathan Lyon, with the Adelaide pitch anticipated to be a dry one like in 2014.
Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul had long stints, facing everything from pace to Kuldeep Yadav's leg spin. Sharma struggled for timing against Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav initially, but warmed up soon enough.
Ajinkya Rahane worked with left-arm throw-downs, mostly short and aimed at his body.
All other batsmen put in regular shifts as well with Rishabh Pant, Parthiv Patel and Hanuma Vihari among the last to leave the net session. As such this practice didn't give many hints of a possible team combination for the first Test. It did signify that eleven batsmen will get a chance over the next four days in this tour game.
Even so, there is a possibility that the game will be reduced to three days or less. Heavy downpour is predicted in Sydney over the next 24-36 hours and play could simply be a washout at least on the first day of the tour game.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hanuma Vihari.
Cricket Australia XI: Sam Whiteman (capt), Max Bryant, Jake Carder, Jackson Coleman, Daniel Fallins, Aaron Hardie, Jonathan Merlo, Harry Nielsen, Luke Robins, D'Arcy Short, Aaron Summers, Param Uppal.