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Dubai, May 31 – With IPL fever only just settling down, India now have little time to switch gears for a format change with the ICC World Test Championship Final starting on June 7.
Several members of the India squad have already reached England and kicked off their preparations for the big finale at the Arundel Cricket Club.
While they managed to catch a glimpse of the thrilling IPL 2023 final, all-rounder Axar Patel, who was among the training group, confirmed that their preparations were going well for the WTC showdown against Australia.
The switch between formats in a short timeframe comes with its challenges, but Axar revealed that the preparations had begun during the IPL season itself where they practiced with the red ball.
“We knew about this before the start of IPL,” Axar told the ICC.
“So even during the IPL, it was discussed that we will bowl with the red ball. 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.”
“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.”
While India play their red-ball games at home with the SG ball, the WTC Final will have the Dukes ball which is used in English conditions. Axar stated that they were practicing with the Dukes ball during the IPL, but maintained that the focus was on hitting the right spot irrespective of the ball used.
“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.
“As I said, we switch from white ball to red ball. It is a similar switch to go from SG to Dukes, you have the 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,” Axar said.
“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.”
Aside from the quick change in format, there’s also the challenge of adapting to the relatively mild conditions in England from the sweltering heat of the Indian summer.
“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.”
Bowling plans are yet to come together, and Axar is happy to leave that to the bowling coach, but neither he nor the team is sweating over the complete contrast in conditions.
“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.”