India has played only one pink-ball Test, that too last year against Bangalesh, while Australia has played a fair number of such games. just to get an idea of how the ball behaves, India are currently playing a pink-ball warm-up match against Australia A. India coach Ravi Shastri, in an interview with the Times of India, highlighted the importance of this match.
“The three-day game (warm-up) is a good thing to happen. It’ll give our players an opportunity to experience it and see what happens with the ball at what times. That’s the crucial bit," says Shastri.
Shastri also went on to say that the pink-ball Test against Australia doesn’t count. “It’s new to everybody. We haven’t really played anything much (with the pink ball)," he says, clearly underlining that the Test match under lights against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens last year won’t really count. “Until now we’ve only been told it moves a lot in the evening. We will find out," he says.
Virat Kohli, though part of the squad, is not appearing the warm-up tie, but Shastri said that it was done, keeping in mind the workload of the skipper. “We rested him because we know he’s got a big load coming in. We’ve rested players simply because it’s been continuous cricket and that’s how it’s going to be. The same reason the Aussies probably rested Cummins," says the coach, referring to the all-important Test series that’s the ultimate objective for both teams.
He added, beating Australia in the T20I series without the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma as part of their line-up was a ‘huge achievement’. India had come into the three-match T20I series on the back of a 2-1 loss in the ODI series but bounced back nicely, winning the first two T20Is in convincing fashion before narrowly losing the third and missing out on a clean sweep. The showing was doubly important given the fact that the next major ICC tournament coming up is the T20 World Cup, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Winning the T20s without Rohit and Bumrah was a huge achievement. What’s essentially working beautifully for this team is players standing up to these responsibilities," he told the Times of India.
Shastri was also full of praise for Hardik Pandya, who despite not playing as an all-rounder was instrumental with the bat. The head coach referred to him as ‘one of the cleanest strikers of the ball’ he had ever seen.
“In that, Hardik has been a natural. His game awareness is second to none. He’s one of the cleanest strikers of the ball I’ve seen in the game."