Australia face rookies in tour opener
By Shyam Sundar
Chennai, Sep 11 (PTI) Locking horns with an inexperienced side is not an ideal preparation for the real test ahead but Australia would look to get into the groove and be ready for the five-match ODI series against India when they take on a relatively weak Board President's XI, here tomorrow.
The Australians, led by Steve Smith, arrived here from Bangladesh after drawing a two-Test series and the match tomorrow would give them opportunity to at least switch to the One-day format.
The reigning 50-over World Champions have struggled to counter spin and captain Steve Smith has admitted it will a big challenge for them to adapt to spin-friendly conditions.
The line-up that they face has only one capped player in captain Gurkeerat Singh Mann. He played three ODIs against Australia early in 2016 and has since remained on the fringes after that.
With most of the Indian players involved in Duleep Trophy, the selectors had to name an XI comprising of relatively unknown players but it is a chance that they would relish because it is not often that they get to face international opposition.
More than Australia, it's the Board President XI players, who will be richer in gaining experience.
Australia skipper Smith and his deputy David Warner, who scored two centuries in Bangladesh, are the key batsmen for the side. Smith would hope that experienced Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and others also step up.
There are plenty of all-rounders in the visitors camp - James Faulkner, Marcus Stoinis, Nathan Coulter-Nile, who all have the experience of playing on Indian pitches, courtesy IPL.
A good show in the practice game would put them ahead in the race to win a spot in the starting XI for the first ODI on Sunday.
For Maxwell and wicket-keeper Matthew Wade, the series would be crucial as they had an average tour of Bangladesh.
Smith has already said that performances in this series would count as the selectors look to identify the player to fill the vital No.6 spot in the Test team and the keeper's slot for the Ashes, which that begin in November.
While the warm-up tie presents a chance to the batsmen to get some game time ahead of the first ODI, the bowlers would be aiming to find their rhythm early and adapt to the humid Indian conditions.
For the home players such as Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana and Washington Sundar, who have performed well in the IPL, taking on the Australians would be a big challenge.
Local lad Sundar said he was excited to play against Smith after having played under his captaincy at Rising Pune Supergiant this year. The lanky all-rounder had made an impact with the ball in the IPL.
Another Tamil Nadu player Rahil Shah is part of the squad and the left-arm spinner, who was kept out of the state team after a few games in the previous Ranji Trophy season, would be eager to showcase his skills.
Australia Steve Smith (C), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (WK), Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson.
Board President XI Team: Gurkeerat Singh Mann (Captain), Rahul Tripathi, Mayank Agarwal, Shivam Chaudhary, Washington Sundar, Nitish Rana, Govind Poddar, Shreevats Goswami, Rahil Shah, Akshay Karnewar, Kulwant Khejroliya, Kushang Patel, Avesh Khan and Sandeep Sharma