The first batch of eight cricketers of the 18-member Australian Test squad arrived here on Thursday night. The players received a warm welcome at the Anna International Airport.

The cricketers who landed were pacemen Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Jackson Bird, off-spinner Nathan Lyon, batsmen Ed Cowan and Usman Khawaja, and all-rounders Moises Henriques and Steven Smith.

The next two groups of Australian players, including captain Michael Clarke, will reach here ahead of the first tour game, a two-day match against Board President’s XI from February 12.

The Aussies will then take on India ‘A’ in a three-day contest — this will be a first-class match —from February 16. The first Test of the four-match series begins at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on February 22. The 28-year-old Siddle, who has 141 wickets in 37 Tests, is expected to spearhead the pace attack. Talking about the tough Indian campaign, Siddle had said that the pacemen needed to attack the stumps, build pressure on the batsmen, and be patient.

The second batch of cricketers — opener David Warner, ’keeper Matthew Wade, off-spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and young left-arm spinner Ashton Agar — will reach India on Saturday.

The phased manner of arrivals reflect the importance the Australians have given for this tour.

They want the players, the youngsters in particular, to spend as much time as possible in India ahead of the series. There’s no doubt that Australia’s preparation holds the key to its chances.

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