Virat Kohli will treat the contest against Australia A as a warm-up to the upcoming Sri Lanka series © AFP
Virat Kohli will treat the contest against Australia A as a warm-up to the upcoming Sri Lanka series © AFP

With Virat Kohli walking to the nets at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Chepauk, Chennai, the buzz around the occasion — the second unofficial Test between India A and Australia A — has increased. For this is an endeavour of India’s new Test captain to gear up for the Tests in Sri Lanka next month, the weather and pitch conditions of which country will be similar to the one in Chennai. Since he has taken over the captaincy, Kohli has scored 463 runs in five innings at an average of 92.60, but his opportunities to participate in Tests in this period have been few and far between: after the two Tests against Australia at the start of this year, Kohli has led India in only one Test, against Bangladesh in weather that prevented much play to take place, in June. READ: Rahul Dravid praises Virat Kohli for his move to play against Australia A

Since the end of that tour, of Bangladesh, which had India facing humiliation in the One-Day International (ODI) series against the home side, he has not played any international cricket. He greeted Rahul Dravid, the coach of India A, and Paras Mhambrey, the bowling coach, and buckled down to practice his batting in the nets, and tested his footwork against slow bowlers. READ: Virat Kohli main attraction in India A vs Australia A 2nd unofficial Test

Marcus Stoinis, the allrounder who scored 77 for Australia A in the first unofficial Test in Chennai, was respectful of his new opponent. “I am not sure what to expect. It’s going to be good test for us. I don’t think it will get too spicy. But who knows? Once you get on to the field and play in 40ºC heat, you may not even know what you are saying. Kohli is a competitive person and we are a competitive team. We have a lot of respect for him,” he was quoted as saying by Asian Age.

India drew the first contest between the sides, last week, in conditions of decent heat and humidity, and a slow surface. India gained a first innings lead of 33 runs as left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha took five wickets. India were then reduced to 206 for 8 to provide Australia A a target of 240, of which 160 were knocked off at the end of the match, for the loss of four wickets.

India will embark on a Test tour of Sri Lanka in August, to play three Tests in what will be Kumar Sangakkara‘s final international outing. The first Test in Galle starts August 12, and the last Test in Colombo ends September 1. India A, meanwhile, will play three limited-overs international with Australia after this upcoming game, all in Chennai, and then embark upon an unofficial Test series against South Africa A.

Squads:

India A: Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara (c), Varun Aaron, Baba Aparajith, Shreyas Gopal, Shreyas Iyer, Amit Mishra, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Karun Nair, Naman Ojha, Pragyan Ojha, Lokesh Rahul, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav.

Australia A: Usman Khawaja (c), Matthew Wade (vc & wk), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Callum Ferguson, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, James Pattinson, Gurinder Sandhu, Adam Zampa, Andrew Fekete.