Switching from playing T20s to the longest format of the game is difficult, but practising with the red ball through the IPL will help in the tough transition at the World Test Championship final against Australia, feels India all-rounder Axar Patel.
Most members of the Indian team head to the marquee event after playing T20 cricket in the IPL for over two months.
Additionally, while the SG balls are used to play the red-ball format in India, the Dukes ball will be used for the WTC final.
However, India is well prepared for the twin challenges. To familiarise themselves with the Dukes ball, which is used in English conditions, the ‘Men in Blue’ have been working with it.
“We knew about this before the start of the IPL. So even during the IPL, it was discussed that we will bowl with the red ball,” Axar told ICC.
“We had red balls, so we were using them. You know when and how to play, how much time you have. This mental switch from white ball to red ball is obviously tough, but we have enough time,” Axar added.
The left-arm spinner, however, said that the focus is on hitting the right spot irrespective of the ball used.
“We switch from white ball to red ball. It is a similar switch to go from SG to Dukes, you have to use your talent and skill. You have to execute your plan, your bowling rhythm. Irrespective of the ball, if you bowl a good ball at a good spot, it works.
“So, that’s what we’re doing. Since the match is in England, which is different from India, we are planning what lines and lengths will work here. The same thing in practice, we are good to go.” The first batch of Indian players, including the likes of Virat Kohli and Axar, landed in London early last week and have been preparing for the final, scheduled to be held at The Oval from June 7 to 11.
“Those who did not qualify (for IPL Playoffs) got more time. So I don’t think there will be many problems because we have had a good time to prepare.” “The difference is the Dukes ball remains shinier for longer. But during the IPL, we had ordered the ball, so were practising with it and have gotten used to it,” Axar said.
The Indian team will also have to quickly adapt to the relatively cooler conditions in England, having played the IPL in the sweltering heat.
“We came after playing IPL, where it was 40-45 degrees in India. After that it feels great here. We have taken out our winter clothes and are roaming around wearing jumpers. It’s also a bit windy. Whenever we come to the UK, we enjoy the weather. It remains a little cool, there is no heat.” In stark contrast to India’s spin-friendly pitches, the conditions in England are more suited to swing bowling.
“Obviously, the conditions in India and England are different. The fast bowlers have more of a role here. In India, spinners play a more important role,” Axar said.
“The conditions are the same for both teams. In England, the wind assists swing bowling and offers good bounce if you bowl at the right spots.
“The team is getting together slowly, so the planning will go on. We’ll leave the planning to our bowling coach.”
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