India gears up for testing times at home

As the Indian team enters the final frontier of the home Test stretch, the test will get tougher, both in terms of the opposition and venues. Three of the four Tests against Australia, including the opener starting at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here in two days, are set to be played at new Test venues.

Murali Vijay during a practice session in Pune on Tuesday.   -  Photo: PTI

As much as Virat Kohli’s men have been challenged with three oppositions thus far in a gruelling season of cricket in white flannels so far, India’s Test team has had to confront conditions that are alien to them in the longest format. After all, three of the nine Tests so far this season have seen venues staging its maiden Test match.

As the Indian team enters the final frontier of the home Test stretch, the test will get tougher, both in terms of the opposition and venues. Three of the four Tests against Australia, including the opener starting at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here in two days, are set to be played at new Test venues. No wonder then that the Indian contingent is trying to take all the possible gains while dealing with similar circumstances over the last four months.

“If you look back at the nine Tests that we’ve played at home, each one has its own challenges. We’ve played on some new venues, first Test match. Even here as well… So we’ve played at venues where Test cricket hasn’t been played before,” head coach Anil Kumble said ahead of India’s optional training session on Tuesday.

“In that sense this team is capable of adjusting and adapting to whatever challenges come up. Really satisfied with the way things have gone. These are good things. On the last day of the Test match in Chennai, I don’t think many gave India a chance to win the Test, let alone after England scored almost 500 runs in the first innings. Even in Mumbai (againstEngland) it was a similar case, where we lost the toss and they put 400 runs and we won by an innings. That’s the beauty about this team.

“Even in Kolkata where we played New Zealand, very different conditions where the seamers came into the picture. We had answers to all those questions. That’s what you want from a championship team and that’s exactly what we’re trying to build towards and not really worry about the pitch or conditions.”

Nature of pitches for home games has been one of the biggest talking points of late, especially during Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s stint as captain. With Dhoni preferring to derive as much home advantage as possible, often did India play on rank turners, thus taking the bite out of series against the toughest oppositions.

Kumble hinted that this team doesn’t necessarily believe in the philosophy of Kohli’s predecessor. “I can only talk about since the time I’ve been involved. One thing we’ve constantly spoken about and tried to be aware of is what is in our control,” he said. “The least that we discuss is about the pitch, about the toss.”