Australia’s coaches have turned an eye to next year’s tour of India as they prepare for the possibility of pulling off a rare hat-trick on the subcontinent.
Andrew McDonald’s men were set to return to training on Monday after two days off, as they begin to ramp up preparations for Friday’s second Test against Sri Lanka.
A win or draw in Galle will secure a second straight series win in Asia, after breaking an 11-year drought with victory in Pakistan earlier this year. But they are also aware a bigger challenge awaits next February.
Australia have not won in India since 2004, while victory there would mark just the third time in the team’s history they have won three straight series in Asia. None of those streaks have come inside the space of 12 months.
There will also be greater implications, with the series the last played before the World Test Championship final and Australia well clear in first with India third.
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It’s why Australia are more than happy with their busy Asian schedule this year, offering up a greater chance to plan for how to best combat the conditions.
Pakistan served up flatter wickets than those traditionally expected in Asia, with Rawalpindi a batter’s paradise and Karachi and Lahore only breaking up later. Galle meanwhile was a raging turner for the first Test against Sri Lanka, with some Australians describing it as the toughest they have batted on.
In India, Australia expect a mixture of the two scenarios and anything in between during the four-Test series.
“In a lot of ways it’s been nice to have a subcontinent tour of Pakistan, then here [in Sri Lanka] and build towards India,” assistant coach Daniel Vettori said. “Conditions will be very different. We will get a lot of variation from venue to venue.
“You could get anything in between [the pitches in Pakistan and Sri Lanka]. If you play at Mohali it is going to be flat, if you play at Wankhede [in Mumbai] it could turn square like here. You can’t just have one plan.”
Australia’s batters have made a point to meet the tempo of the match on both recent tours, playing the long game in Pakistan before upping the scoring rate in Galle. But regardless of the tempo, they want to use their crease and be busy enough to unsettle the spinners.
A new-found willingness to sweep more is also key. Some 45.7 percent of Australia’s boundaries in the first Test were either swept or reverse-swept, compared to 20.8 per cent in their 3-0 loss in Sri Lanka in 2016.
“In a lot of ways sweeps can be blocks over here,” Vettori said. “There have been plans for individuals to use whatever they feel comfortable with, and to be as proactive and brave as they could with it.
“The guys who do sweep very well tried to emphasise that as much as possible. Alex Carey, I think his first 12 scoring shots were sweeps.”