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2nd Warm-Up Game: Vihari the extra batsman and Kuldeep as extra spinner in focus

Published: 10th Dec 2020 6:33 pm

Sydney: A second spinner in Kuldeep Yadav or an additional batsman in Hanuma Vihari will be India’s prime concern during their day/night first-class game against Australia A from Friday which would be the dress rehearsal for the ‘Pink Ball Test’ in Adelaide, starting December 17.

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The three-day game at the floodlight Sydney Cricket Ground will serve as proper simulation for the opening Test but the flat batting track here may not exactly be conducive for preparation considering that Adelaide Oval curator Damian Hough, according to Ian Chappell, will leave around 10mm grass cover on the strip.

The match, which will be streamed live, may not feature skipper Virat Kohli, who has hinted that he wants to go on with his own preparation routine before the “Battle Royale”.

It could also be a tactical move to ensure that the Australians do not get a sneak peek at his long format preparation.

“Playing it on and off is not my thing and I like to play the full game. I will talk to our physio and then decide on my participation,” Kohli had said after the completion of the T20 series.

For Australia, new sensation Cameron Green will get another chance to impress skipper Tim Paine and coach Justin Langer while Mitchell Swepson would hope that when the third Test is played at the SCG in the New Year, he is in consideration.

Save Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara in the first essay and Wriddhiman Saha’s dour fifty in the second innings, there wasn’t much to write home about for India in the opening first-class encounter.

So, this will be the visitors’ chance to sort out the combinations, including a decision on whether the 36-Test experience of KL Rahul will gain precedence while opening with Mayank Agarwal, who is a certainty.

Considering Prithvi Shaw’s loose technique against quality seam and swing bowling and Shubman Gill still trying to find his feet at the top level, Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri, at least in the first Test, would like to bank on experience.

Similarly, the other question would be whether India can afford to go into the Test carrying five specialist bowlers with perhaps an extra spinner in Kuldeep Yadav.

Kuldeep, among all the players in this team, has more experience of playing with pink ball and the kind of revolution he produces, he could make it difficult for batsmen to spot the black seam of the pink kookaburra under lights.

MCG to have 30,000 spectators daily

Melbourne: The iconic Boxing Day Test between India and Australia is set to be played in front of 30,000 fans per day after the Victorian government eased crowd restrictions on Thursday.

In a world scarred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the limited overs series between Australia and India saw the return of spectators.

The Boxing Day Test scheduled to be played between December 26 to 30 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was earlier restricted to 25 per cent of the total capacity crowd — about 25,000 fans a day.

However, the decision to increase the cap to 30,000 was made after the state went past 40 days without a new Covid-19 case.

“We’re so excited to be able to welcome so many fans to the MCG in what’s been such a challenging year for Victorians! #AUSvIND,” Cricket Australia tweeted.

The much-anticipated four-Test series is scheduled to begin from December 17 in Adelaide.

The Adelaide Test will be the only five-day game which India skipper Virat Kohli will feature in before he returns to be with his actor wife Anushka Sharma for the birth of their first child in early January.

It will be the first ever Pink Ball Test the two sides play against each other and will have 50 per cent of the total capacity of the crowd. PTI

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