Canberra: Veteran batsman VVS Laxman was the last to arrive at the optional nets this morning and was seen asking for new balls as the Indians practised throwdowns with old balls on Saturday.
The three other Indian players present for the optional nets were all batsmen -- Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. They all had been practicing against "throwdowns" from the support staff but apparently the balls were not new.
Laxman`s query was understandable. With Australia likely to crank up the pace during the Tests and pitches, with or without grass, containing that inherent bounce, the red cherry with lacquer could have offered a better preparation.
It`s a point which is well-supported by Australia who are presently practicing with "two-piece" new balls in order to prepare them better for seaming and swinging deliveries in a three-day batting camp in Melbourne to shape up their batsmen.
Former Australian captain Greg Chappell is also due to address the Australian team and offer insight on the Indians whom he coached for three years in last decade.
Young batsmen such as Phil Hughes are spurning the riches of Big Bash cricket and opting for low-key three-day practice match against the Indians in order to be ready.
India, on their part, did send seven of their Test specialists -- the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and bowlers Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, besides reserve wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha -- almost a week before the rest of team members arrived on December 14.
They have also squeezed in an extra game as a matter of preparation. Young Indians on the present tour need to make most of the extra time which has been afforded to them.
The bowlers need to find the right length to be successful. Young Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma among batsmen and Abhimanyu Mithun Vinay Kumar and R Ashwin among bowlers could do with extra nets.
Rahul Dravid, the most senior batsman of the side in terms of age, is a case in point. He was the first one to pad up at today`s nets.
Indians have their best chance ever to win a series in Australia. It`s a feat which has never been managed by the Indians over nine visits, 36 Tests and 64 years.
It`s a feat which would befit the status of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman who are on their final tour to this part of the world.