Preparations under way for Australia’s tour of India

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The Australian squad that will be touring India will be announced this Sunday. Australians are scheduled to play four test matches beginning on February 23 at Pune. The Australian team’s test fortunes have endured a tumultuous time recently. The squad is under transition, with new faces coming in, following a stretch of five consecutive defeats in tests which included a 3-0 clean sweep at the hands of Sri Lanka and an embarrassing series loss in home conditions to South Africa.  The new-look team seems to be clicking, for now. They managed to win a keenly contested three match test series against Pakistan, thereby condemning the Pakistanis to a fourth consecutive series whitewash on Australian soil.

These days, playing India in India seems to be the toughest fixture for any touring side. Australian captain Steve Smith has already acknowledged the challenge at hand.

At the end of the Sydney test, he had this to say in the press conference; “Obviously, it is going to be a very difficult series. We are under no illusions it is going to be tough. We are going to have to play some very good cricket if we are going to compete over there. It is going to be a great challenge and learning curve for this group.” India

India are currently the top-ranked side in Test cricket and are on an 18 match unbeaten streak and would be looking to break the all time Indian record of 20 matches without a defeat.

The Australians, on the other hand, would be keen to avoid a repeat of the fate of the last touring party to India in 2013 which lost 4-0 and Cricket Australia seems to be taking no chances this time. The Australians had a bad experience in Sri Lanka last year where they were served green seamers as practice pitches and sub-standard net facilities; which is why Cricket Australia recently sent a team comprising four members to inspect the facilities at JSCA International stadium at Ranchi, which will play host to the third match of the series and its first ever test match. The team inspected the on-field conditions i.e. the pitch and the surface, dressing room, dining area, media centre, net practice facility and indoor cricket facility. Additionally, Australia is scheduled to train at Dubai before the commencement of the tour, thereby taking a leaf out of England’s book. They will be playing two practice matches in Dubai, something which England had done the last time they won a test series in India.

JSCA stadium, Ranchi: The venue of the third test was subject to an inspection from CA recently. PC: telegraphindia.com

The upcoming trip is surely going to test the captaincy skills of Steve Smith. As for his young squad, such a tough tour represents an opportunity of a lifetime. The Indian tour remains the final frontier for the Australian cricket team.

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