Taking our practice game seriously: Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma in his bowling stride. (Getty Image)

The focus shifts to red-ball cricket for Virat Kohli’s touring Indian team as they take on a Cricket Australia XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground across four days from November 28. The only four-day warm-up game before India begin their gruelling Test series against Australia starting December 6 in Adelaide, and despite CA XI not boasting big names, fast bowler Ishant Sharma explained that India are taking this game seriously as it will “set the tone” for the four Tests.

WATCH: Ishant Sharma speaks to reporters at the SCG

“It’s pretty serious for us. It sets the tone. It will help us get accustomed to the conditions because we’re playing in Australia after a long time. So obviously, you can get into the groove. I think it’s an important game,” Ishant said. “We never think about stuff like an opposition doesn’t have big players because if you go with this feeling, you relax a bit. So, it’s always better to be on your toes and give your 100 percent on a day.”

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Having never won a Test series in Australia before, India have been tipped to create history in Australia this time around, with the host team facing issue of their own. They are coming off a 0-1 loss to Pakistan in Tests in UAE and lost to South Africa in both ODIs and T20Is. Besides, the biggest advantage India have is the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, who are serving 12-month long bans. Without Smith and Warner, Australia have struggled with the bat, but Ishant admits India are not being too complacent.

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“To be very honest, we don’t think about these things, because it always depends on the given day. In cricket, whoever is playing for the country, they are good enough, that’s why they are representing the nation. We don’t take any opposition lightly and Australia will be no different,” Ishant said.

This is Ishant’s fourth tour of Australia since he made his debut in 2007. Ever since, Ishant has played 10 games in Australia and taken 19 wickets. While those may not be the best of figures, Ishant has improved significantly in the last couple of years and his experience will come extremely handy for India against a comparatively fresh Australian batting line-up. Besides, Ishant signed up with Susses earlier this year, where he picked up inputs form former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie.

“I’ve played for 11 years now so I don’t really need to think about what I need to do. I don’t dwell much into the past, It’s about looking ahead and hoping to do well. He (Gillespie) helped me during my county stint and it was a good experience with him,” Ishant said.

Ishant is part of India’s strong pace attack that also comprises Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, and spinners R Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav are vital elements in India’s scheme of things. Asked about what India’s team combination might be, Ishant said: “The combination depends of a lot of things, pitches, weather etc. It’s a little early to talk about combinations I think. Right now, the practice game is where our focus lies and perhaps we’ll get a better idea about the combinations afterwards.”