Chennai, Aug 6: Outplayed in the four-day games, a new-look India A will have to play out of their skins to stop a rampaging Australia A when they clash in a tri-series One-day cricket match, here tomorrow.
Australia A have been dominant on this tour so far as they humbled the hosts in the unofficial two-match Test series and hammered South Africa by 9 wickets in the tri-series opener on Wednesday.
The series is an opportunity for players like Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson, Karun Nair and Karn Sharma to impress the selectors and stake their claim in the national side.
Top-order batsman Karun Nair, from Karnataka, is the lone player who was part of the squad in the two-Test series that concluded last week. The Indian pace attack would revolve around Sandeep Sharma, Rush Kalaria, Rishi Dhawan and Dhawal Kulkarni but the Chennai wickets are on the slower side and look spin-friendly.
The Australians have more or less mastered the conditions. They have proved themselves in both bowling and batting. Especially, captain Usman Khawaja's planning and strategies have worked wonders so far.
Going by the current form of the Aussies, they look formidable but it remains to be seen if the Rahul Dravid-coached India A can make good use of the home advantage.
Skipper Unmukt Chand, who led India to under-19 World Cup win in 2012, is optimistic about the team's chances.
"The team has good balance. We have some excellent batsmen and brilliant bowlers, especially in the pace department. I had played with the team members - six other current India A team members were part of the last edition in Australia and I enjoy a good rapport with them and I am sure that will be helpful to me in the tri series," he said.
Talking about the spin department, the Mumbai Indians IPL star, Unmukt said, "Three spinners in the team - Parveez Rasool, Karn Sharma and Axar Patel - have experience, quality and variety." Unmkut said playing for India is a dream.
"I have prepared myself well for this tournament having been playing in the league tournament in Chennai. I am working very hard to get in to India side. There have been ups and downs during the last three years but I am fully focused now. I am confident that my time will come," he said.
India A: Unmukt Chand (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair (vice-captain), Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Parveez Rasool, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sandeep Sharma, Rush Kalaria, Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Rishi Dhawan.
Australia A: Usman Khawaja (captain), Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Callum Ferguson, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, James Pattinson, Gurinder Sandhu, Andrew Fekete.
Schedule (All matches start at 9 AM IST)
Venue: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
August 5 (Wednesday) - Australia A beat South Africa A by 9 wickets
August 7 (Friday) - India A Vs Australia A
August 9 (Sunday) - India A Vs South Africa A
August 10 (Monday) - Australia A Vs South Africa A
August 11 (Tuesday) - India A Vs Australia A
August 12 (Wednesday) - India A Vs South Africa A
August 14 (Friday) - FINAL