All eyes will be on the opening batsmen of both sides in the second warm-up between Australia A and the touring Indians that begins under lights at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) from Friday.
Though India skipper Virat Kohli is likely to sit out of the match, the three-day pink-ball match will be another opportunity for India’s Test specialists to get into rhythm ahead of the series that begins on December 17.
It will be interesting to see if India field Mohammed Shami or Jasprit Bumrah, the duo being an unknown quantity to the majority of Australia’s players, including Steve Smith, in the longer format.
Kohli had earlier mentioned that players like himself, Bumrah, Shami and KL Rahul who have been playing all the formats may need rest. The four players have played six high-intensity limited-overs games over 12 days and it could mean that they are rested for the warm-up encounter.
Ravindra Jadeja is the other all-format player but he is out with concussion-related problems.
The absence of the two frontline pace bowlers will, however, deny the Australian Test players in the A squad for Friday’s game some valuable practice.
Joe Burns and Cameron Green are two batsmen in the Australia A side who will also feature in the Test series.
There is still doubt over Burns’ partner in the first Test. Young Will Pucovski was expected to replace David Warner, who will miss the first Test due to groin injury.
But the 22-year-old is under observation for concussion-related problems after being hit on the head by India A pace bowler Kartik Tyagi and has been rested for this game.
In Pucovski’s absence, left-handed batsman Marcus Harris will likely open the innings with Burns. Though not part of the current Test squad, he had played the last home Test series against India as an opener, in 2018-19.
Harris made two 70s in seven completed innings back then but his next best effort were four scores in the 20s.
Although he hasn’t played for Australia since last year’s Ashes, he has been among the runs in Australia’s domestic first class tournament this season, scoring a double ton and two fifties in three matches.
He also made 35 and unbeaten 25, batting at No.3, in the previous warm-up against India A that ended on Tuesday.
For India, Mayank Agarwal could get an opportunity as both youngsters Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill failed at the top in the first warm-up game, the former getting 19 and the latter 29.
It remains to be seen if Rahul will be rested or one of the two youngsters asked to open with Agarwal.
Another area of interest for India will be who will don the wicketkeeper’s gloves. Saha played the first warm-up and India could field Rishabh Pant in the second.
Pant, who is out of favour in white-ball cricket, is the preferred choice for Tests overseas, possessing the capability to play attacking innings. He made an unbeaten 159 at the Sydney Cricket Ground during the last tour but has failed with the bat in the four Tests he has played after that