The three-day tour game in Sydney, starting on Friday, is a dress rehearsal for the first Test to be played in Adelaide from December 17. The day-night game in Sydney will allow the players to get a feel of conditions during India’s first-ever overseas day-night Test.
India are a pink-ball cricket apprentice, with only one such Test under their belt, against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens in November 2019. Australia, on the other hand, are a day-night cricket thoroughbred, having played their first pink Test way back in 2015. This makes the tour game massively important for India.
For the past three-odd months, white-ball cricket had been the flavour of the season. Some cricketers in the Test team are undercooked in terms of playing the long-form. Jasprit Bumrah is a case in point. Also Mohammed Shami. The fast bowlers haven’t played the multi-day format for over nine months now and the tour game provides them with an opportunity to get into the red ball – pink ball in this case – groove. The likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Umesh Yadav, R Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha, however, had a good outing in the first tour game against Australia A last week. For the match starting Friday, it is very likely that India will be at full strength with an eye on the Adelaide Test, although Virat Kohli’s participation remains uncertain.
The India captain has been playing non-stop since September and after the final T20I against Australia, spoke about the importance of being fresh for the first Test. He confirmed that he would talk to the team physio and trainer about playing the tour game. Kohli will return home after the first Test, and this is a series where making a strong start could be very important.
Smith’s concussion advice
A question mark remains over young Australian batsman Will Pucovski’s participation in the first Test and he is all but certain to miss the tour game against India despite being part of the Australia A squad. The prospective opener suffered ‘mild concussion from a blow to the head’ while batting in the tour game against the Indians last week. Smith himself had suffered concussions on his previous two tours to England. The former Australia captain spoke from personal experience.
“I think every concussion’s different, everybody’s different,” Smith told reporters during a virtual press conference on Thursday. Pucovski had suffered concussion in the past as well. “Will’s had a couple in the past so he’s experienced it, and it’s just about going through all the protocols and getting yourself into a position where you’re comfortable,” Smith was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s (CA) website.
He added: “Firstly, to go into the nets and face some light stuff, and then some bowlers, and then get yourself right to play out in the middle.”
The 22-year-old Pucovski is working with the doctors and according to Australia A captain Alex Carey, is in “great spirits”.
With David Warner ruled out of the first Test due to a groin injury and Pucovski uncertain, Australia are facing an opening conundrum. Former Australia captain Michael Clarke has suggested that Matthew Wade be made a makeshift opener for the first Test. “He’s (Wade) got to be in that starting XI but that could be anywhere in that team. That could be opening the batting, if need be. I think Wadey can do that,” Clarke told AAP.
Meanwhile, Smith told reporters on Thursday that he was ready to bat higher up the order.