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Australia training for India on specially prepared spinning tracks in Sydney

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Last updated on 30 Jan 2023 | 04:10 AM
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Australia training for India on specially prepared spinning tracks in Sydney

The surfaces have been scuffed up, trying to replicate what they are most likely to encounter in India

Australia haven’t won a Test series in India since 2004 and Andrew McDonald and his men are leaving no stone unturned to prepare themselves for the all-important upcoming four-match series in India, starting on February 9 in Nagpur. The Australian players, who are not involved in the ongoing Big Bash League, are currently training in North Sydney.

North Sydney Oval curator Kieran Meurant has prepared a couple of tracks at the Bon Andrews Oval, adjacent to the main North Sydney Oval, with some significant cracks. The surfaces have also been scuffed up, trying to replicate what they are most likely to encounter in India. Australia will be in Bangalore for five days before travelling to Nagpur for the first Test.

"Kieran has done a fantastic job here with the groundstaff to produce exactly what we want. We feel as though out there the surfaces we got are very similar to what we're going to confront in India which is very difficult to replicate, but we feel as though we've got close to that, so the ground staff have done a fantastic job,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Australian head coach McDonald as saying.

“Often (there's) no real connection between that practice game into the first Test match. We feel as though we can control the surfaces here. We get a bit more control in Bangalore to replicate what we're going to come up against and then we go into Nagpur fresh and hopefully it pays dividends at the back end.

"There's been assurances given (about pitches in Bengaluru). We'll get there and most groundstaff around the world are pretty good at allowing us to get what we want. We'll wait and see."

Before touring Pakistan last year, Australia organised a similar camp in Melbourne and ended up winning the series 1-0. However, the surfaces in India are likely to offer more sharper and quicker spin. "We went through a lot of those scenarios. I think the new ball is the one that creates more of that slide and when the batters do get done on the inside…we're preparing for that.

"We'll expect the spinners to bowl early against our opening batters as well with the new ball so all that is taken care of in the training environment. The key to success there is to have a clear method and that will be individually based and depending on the conditions we're confronted with."

Australia have a history of struggling against left-arm spinners and India have two of them in their squad - a fit-again Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. The latter has an unbelievable record in India, while Jadeja who scalped 25 wickets at an average of 18.56 and was named Player of the Series when Australia last toured India for a Test series in 2017.

"We've got a similar bowler in Ashton Agar who can help prepare, and also [assistant coach] Dan Vettori, a left-arm thrower. We'll be trying to make sure the batters are clear on their method. It will be an individual method… they've got a really good blueprint in some of the Test matches against Sri Lanka in Galle,” McDonald said.

Also read - Todd Murphy’s wild journey: from medium pace to Lyon’s understudy

Australia have four frontline spinners - Nathan Lyon, Agar, Mitchell Swepson and Todd Murphy - in their squad for the India tour and all of them are currently involved in intense training in North Sydney. "Starting to get into that really tactical layer [and] also physical preparation. From the fact they're going to be required to bowl heavy overs and clearly you can't just shift T20 into Test match cricket.

"It's been one of the great challenges. I've heard state coaches talk about it year in year out, switching from BBL back into Shield cricket and how difficult that is. Everyone appreciates how difficult that is and hence why we are here now. There's some talk around we're going to India a bit later… but we're still preparing over here. Still feel like we've got two weeks to prepare for that first Test."

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