India seek quick acclimatisation in 1st warm-up game
Canberra: Barely four days after a hectic series against the West Indies, India begin their tour of Australia with a two-day warm-up game against CA Chairman`s XI on Thursday with focus on acclimatising to conditions ahead of the gruelling Test series beginning later this month.
India are high on confidence after their 2-0 and 4-1 wins in the Test and ODI series against the West Indies and they would straightaway get down to their task of getting a feel of Australian conditions which would be much different from what they had faced at home.
Sniffing India`s best chance to beat a weakened and demoralised Australian side at their own backyard, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had stressed upon the importance of acclimatising to the conditions as fast as possible in the 12 days ahead of first Test starting in Melbourne on December 26.
The Indian Cricket Board had also sent seven players, including the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman five days in advance to train in Melbourne, to prepare for what would certainly be their last tour of Australia.
The remaining players, including Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher landed in Australia last night and straightaway left for Canberra for the first warm-up game tomorrow.
It is to be seen if India will roll out a star-studded team for the first warm-up match at Manuka Oval, given that there is a three-day game starting on Monday against another CA Chairman`s XI boasting of Australian players like David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Phil Hughes.
With the tour coming in four years after the acrimonious series in 2008, Dhoni had indicated that the team management would want to use the 12 days before the first Test as much as possible and in that case he would want to use as many players as possible from his 17-man squad.
One concern though would be not to rush players like pacer Zaheer Khan, on whom the Indian team could rely on heavily in the tour in the bowling department.
From what coach Fletcher had said in Chennai before departing for Australia, Zaheer could be rested for the first game tomorrow and fielded in the second game starting on Monday.
"Zaheer has got these two games. It will be preparation for him. We do not want to rush him too quickly. The one three day game there will be important for him before the first Test," Fletcher had said.
Dhoni had also said that remaining injury-free would be crucial in the Test series, more so after pacers Praveen Kumar and Varun Aaron have been ruled out due to injuries after being named in the touring squad.
"We had enough time for some preparation also before the start of the first Test. Looking good as of now. Hopefully we do not have too many injuries before the start of the Test series," he had said before team departure.
Most of the batsmen are among runs in the Test and ODI series against the West Indies at home with the likes of Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli fresh from impressive show in the limited-overs format.
Tendulkar, who is just one short of a historic 100 international tons, was below-par against the West Indies considering the high standards he sets for himself and he would be eager to knock down some runs before he gets into the groove for Test series.
The same would be the case for Laxman, who has also not been in his best form against the West Indies. Dravid, who was the stand-out performer against the West Indies and England before that, would want to straightaway be in the thick of things.
In the bowling department, Ishant Sharma would be raring to go for the first warm-up game tomorrow as he would look for another memorable tour after an impressive show three years ago when he tormented Ricky Ponting no ends in Perth.
India`s opponents tomorrow do not have many prominent Australian cricketers with Test hopeful Ed Cowan being replaced by Queensland opening batsman Ryan Broad at the last minute.
Broad will captain the side, which has no Australian Test player and is composed of players not involved in the Big Bash Twenty20 League.
It won`t, however, be easy for the visitors to be at their best under cold conditions and seaming wicket expected to be found at Manuka Oval.
India (From): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag (vc), Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav.
CA Chairman`s XI: Ryan Broad (c), Joe Burns, Tom Cooper, Alex Doolan, Peter George, Jake Haberfield, Josh Lalor, Tim Ludeman, Glenn Maxwell, Joe Mennie, Wes Robinson, Dean Solway.