Ahead of the four-Test series against India, Cricket Australia has decided to send an advance group of eight players to the subcontinent on Thursday to get acclimatised to the conditions.

The National Selection Panel, headed by chief selector John Inverarity, has also finalised the departure dates of the squad, which would travel to India in three separate groups depending on the current international commitments.

“The players in the 17-man squad will travel to India in three separate groups in an effort to find the best balance for players,” Inverarity said.

“It is planned to have Jackson Bird, Ed Cowan, Moises Henriques, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Steve Smith travel to India on 7 February,” he added.

Million dollar man, Glenn Maxwell, who was bought by Mumbai Indians for the Indian Premier League 6 at a whopping price of USD 1 million, will leave for India in the second batch on February 9.

“Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade will depart on 9 February, as will David Warner who is unavailable for the remainder of the Australian international summer as he recovers from his thumb injury,” Inverarity said.

“The remaining six players - Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Xavier Doherty, Mitchell Starc, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson - will travel on 11 February at the conclusion of the Commonwealth Bank Series against West Indies. These plans are subject to minor alterations.”

Australia will play two warm-up games in Chennai ahead of the first Test in the same city on February 22-26.

Australia has also included left-arm spinner Ashton Agar in their scheme of things and the teenager would be spending a week in India, providing nets practice to the Australian batsmen in the run-up to the Chennai Test.

The 19-year-old, who has shown promise in the Sheffield Shield this season, would be accompanying the players departing on February 9 and play in the first warm-up fixture on February 12-13.

“He will provide ideal practice for the batsmen in the lead-up to the first Test in Chennai,” Inverarity said.

“Last year we took Mitchell Starc to the West Indies to further his development and this is a similar opportunity for Ashton,” Inverarity said.

Australia 17-member squad: Michael Clarke (C), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Moises Henriques, James Pattinson, Xavier Doherty, Jackson Bird, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith.

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