Leg-spinner Sarabjit Ladda and off-spinning all-rounder Parvez Rassol will be watched with interest in the two-day tour game between the Australians and the Board President’s XI, beginning at the IC-Guru Nanak ground here on Tuesday
Even as the home cricketers strive to catch the attention of the selectors, the visitors will seek to adapt to the conditions. There will be much focus on the two-day tour game between the Australians and the Board President’s XI, beginning at the IC-Guru Nanak ground here on Tuesday.
Of course, the fringe Aussie players will receive a valuable opportunity to present their cases before the start of the Test series. They would want to hit the ground running.
The Australians also have a three-day first class match in the city against India ‘A’ before the first Test gets underway here on February 22 but the eleven for that contest is likely to comprise only players who are likely to figure in the first Test.
Wade to lead
The Australians have been arriving in batches but the touring party has managed to put together 11 cricketers for the two-day match. Wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade will lead the side.
That the Indian squad for the first two Tests has already been selected might dampen the spirits of some of the hopefuls but then they have the opportunity to stake their claims for the remaining two Tests of the series. Then, there is always the possibility of an opportunity presenting itself because of an injury.
Someone like the talented Ambati Rayudu, who has all the attributes, will be keen to make an impression. This right-hander has footwork and balance, possesses a tight defence and has a range of strokes that often sees him using the depth of the crease admirably. Importantly, he is not ruffled by the short-pitched stuff from the pacemen and can employ the pull and the hook to counter such tactics.
The 27-year-old batsman’s fluent century in the Irani Cup would have seen him get closer to the Indian team. Rayudu, now, has another opportunity.
The left-handed Abhinav Mukund, who will skipper the side, would want to be back in the mix as an opener. The left-hander made the right beginning to his Test career in the West Indies before problems related to feet movement crept into his game. Mukund has a sound temperament and it is not beyond him to fight his way back.
Robin Uthappa, the other top-order batsman in the side, has attempted to add another dimension to his bustling aggressive, style of batsmanship. With Pravin Amre as his personal batting coach, Uthappa, now, paces his innings better, has sought to work on his defensive skills.
Parthiv Patel has gathered runs in plenty this season but his ’keeping will be under scrutiny. And Stuart Binny’s aggressive batsmanship and useful seam-bowling could provide the selectors with an option.
Young pacemen Mohammed Shami and Parvinder Awana are lively bowlers with possibilities. Leg-spinner Sarabjit Ladda and off-spinning all-rounder Parvez Rassol — a rare emergence at the national level from Jammu & Kashmir — will be watched with interest.
The Board President’s XI batsmen will be put to a severe test of technique and mental toughness by the red-hot pace combination of Peter Siddle and James Pattinson on a pitch likely to have some carry. Pattinson’s fitness will be closely monitored by the visitors.
Interestingly, all-rounders Moises Henriques (paceman), Steve Smith (leg-spinner) and Glenn Maxwell (off-spinner) will figure in the game. They would be fighting for a slot with the Australians keen on selecting an all-rounder to lend balance to their Test XI.
And will the Board President’s XI batsmen go after Nathan Lyon, the leader of the Australian spin pack on this tour? The off-spinner, at the least, will need to maintain pressure from one end even as the pacemen hunt from the other.
Opener Ed Cowan, the left-handed Usman Khawaja, an enterprising batsman who normally occupies a middle-order slot but could be moved up for this game, and the aggressive Wade could make the Board President’s bowlers sweat.
The teams: Australian XI: M. Wade (captain), Ed Cowan, U. Khawaja, S. Smith, M. Henriques, G. Maxwell, J. Pattinson, P. Siddle, N. Lyon, J. Bird & A. Agar.
Board President’s XI (from): A. Mukund (captain), R. Uthappa, A. Rayudu, Mandeep Singh, K. Jadhav, Parthiv Patel, S. Binny, S. Ladda, P. Rassol, M. Shami, P. Awana & K. Makwana.
Match starts at 9.30 a.m.