India 'A' captain Hardik Pandya bowls in the nets on the eve of his team's three-day match against Australia at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/SURESH KARKERA
Two Australian teams will fight against two different nations today and that too in two different formats. While Aaron Finch will lead the T20 outfit against Sri Lanka in Melbourne, Steven Smith's boys will battle it out against the Hardik Pandya-led India 'A' at Brabourne Stadium ahead of their first Test in Pune which starts on February 23.
Though the visitors are trying two different sets of players for the shorter and longer formats of the game, Pandya felt that players need to switch to different formats.
When it was pointed out that most of the India 'A' players have joined the team after playing in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, Pandya said: "To play for the national team, you need to get used to switching between formats. We played England in the T20 series and after four to five days, we played the Test against Bangladesh."
However, he added that cricketers need to be mentally strong and accept these challenges. "It's difficult, but it's more of a mental thing and how you work on it, because the legends which are playing right now are doing it for years. We also accept that things won't be easy and players in this team (India 'A') are mentally strong and they are going to get used to the conditions," Pandya told reporters at the Cricket Club of India yesterday.
India 'A' batting comprises Ranji Trophy top-scorer Gujarat's Priyank Panchal, Mumbai's Shreyas Iyer and Akhil Herwadkar, Delhi's Rishabh Pant, Jharkhand's Ishan Kishan and Maharashtra's Ankit Bawane. While Pandya, Ashok Dinda and Mohammad Siraj will lead the pace bowling attack, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav will be part of the spin department.
Pandya made it clear that he is looking at this game as a stepping step to the Indian Test team.
"It will be a good opportunity for all of us, especially me, to perform and get an opportunity to play in the Test series. We are not treating it as a practice game; it's an opportunity for all of us to do amazing things and get noticed by the selectors," said the 23-year-old all-rounder.
Pandya in good space
The Baroda all-rounder, who played seven ODIs and 19 T20Is, was in the Test squad for the first three Tests against England and later on, recovered from an injury to be selected for the one-off Test against Bangladesh.
When asked about the frustrating to be on the bench, he replied: "Everything comes at the right time. Whenever they feel that I am ready to play Test cricket, I will be in the playing XI. But as I said, Test cricket is something amazing to learn, so I am learning new tricks and I am just trying to improve."