Focus on Virat Kohli as India A face Australia A

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The spotlight will be on Test skipper Virat Kohli as India A go into the second and final unofficial Test against Australia A on Wednesday, eager to secure a win after drawing the first match last week.

Looking to get some vital competitive match practice ahead of the tough Sri Lanka tour, Kohli straight away joined the practice sessions. His decision to play the match was to get acclimatized to the conditions which will be similar to Colombo where he will be leading the Indian team in a three-Test series starting on August 12.

In the first unofficial test that ended in a draw last week, the wicket at MA Chidambaram Stadium was on the slower side, making it tough for the bowlers from both sides. In fact, the captains of India A and Australia A termed the first match track as one which was difficult to bat on, spin friendly and that the competition between bat and ball was lost. In the last three days, the groundsmen here have been working on the wicket, and with Kohli being around in the playing eleven for the hosts, the match is likely to throw a strip that is to the liking of the players.

The hosts would need to up their game if they hope to put it across the Australian outfit in the second match to seal the two-match series. On paper, India A, coached by former India skipper Rahul Dravid, look a superior outfit with a mix of experienced players and young talent but they need to fire collectively against the Aussies, who are a quality fielding and bowling unit. The visitors will be banking on their strong pace attack and also expect left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe, who claimed eight wickets in the opening game, to fire with the ball again. Australia A will also be hoping that the batsmen show better application and bat for long hours.

 

Match Date: July 29 to August 1

Start time: 10:00 IST

Venue: MA Chidambaram stadium, Chennai

Weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 37 degree Celsius

 

Team News:

India A

Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara mentioned that KL Rahul, Amit Mishra and Umesh Yadav will be rested for this game. Kohli will takeRahul’s place while a fit-again Varun Aaron will replace Yadav. As for Mishra’s spot, it will be a three-way battle between Shreyas Gopal, Baba Aparajith and Jayant Yadav. Pujara also confirmed that he will open the batting in Rahul’s absence. 

Probable XI: Cheteshwar Pujara(c), Abhinav Mukund, Karun Nair, Virat Kohli, Naman Ojha(w), Shreyas Iyer, Baba Aparajith/Shreyas Gopal/Jayant Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Vijay Shankar, Abhimanyu Mithun, Varun Aaron

 

Australia A

Australia A will be without the services of middle-order batsman Nic Maddinson, who has withdrawn from the tour after suffering a finger injury. Khawaja mentioned that spinner Ashton Agar, who was rehabilitating for his shoulder injury, would be available for the match. It remains to be seen if Australia A opt fora five-bowler strategy by including Agar in place of the injured Maddinson.

Probable XI: Usman Khawaja(c), Cameron Bancroft, Travis Head, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade(w), Steve O’Keefe, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Gurinder Sandhu, Andrew Fekete

 

Quotes:

“It will be good for me as well as for all the youngsters. They can talk to Virat and learn from him. Virat can share his ideas and how he prepares.”

– Cheteshwar Pujara welcomes Virat Kohli’s inclusion

“He is a bloody great player. I am not sure if his presence will spice things up on the field. That’s something you can tell only when he steps up on the field.”

– Marcus Stoinis is in no mood to stoke the fire