Fresh from a testing tour of Bangladesh, Steven Smith, the Australia captain, doesn't think his team will face a similar trial by spin during the upcoming limited-overs series in India. Smith took into account not only his batsmen's ability but also the Indian pitches, which he believed, wouldn't offer as much spin in limited-overs cricket.
Australia will have an opportunity to acclimatise when they open the tour with a warm-up game against a Board President's XI in Chennai on Tuesday. "I think the one-day group has played spin pretty well for a while. Obviously we are still learning in the Test format," Smith said at the arrival press conference in Chennai. "We have come from a challenging tour from Bangladesh.
"The guys are learning and trying to improve. So, hopefully they can continue to do so. [I am] not sure the one-day wickets will present quite as much spin [as] perhaps some of the Test wickets. But we have to wait and see and adapt to the conditions accordingly.
After losing the first Test against Bangladesh, Australia levelled the two-Test series with a seven-wicket win in Chittagong. During the series, Australia had to contend with a heavy diet of spin bowling, with Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan and Taijul Islam accounting for 26 wickets. Australia, too, leaned heavily on Nathan Lyon, who finished as the highest wicket-taker on either side, with 22 wickets.
While Lyon doesn't find a place in the limited-overs sides, Smith hoped that legspinner Adam Zampa could make his IPL experience with Rising Pune Supergiant count. "I hope [he is the trump card]," Smith said. "He has got a pretty good record over the last a year or two. He has got some experience playing in these conditions in IPL. So, we know what to expect from Zampa. And if he gets his opportunity, hopefully he can have some success on this tour."
Zampa aside, Australia's spin options comprise left-armer Ashton Agar and allrounder Glenn Maxwell. Smith was appreciative of how S Sriram, the former India allrounder and spin consultant of the Australia side, equipped the players with knowledge of local conditions.
"Sri's been really good," he said. "He has got some great knowledge of how to play in these conditions. He has helped a lot of the players, particularly the spin bowlers in understanding the right ways to bowl in these conditions - probably more for longer format, than in the shorter format. He has got great knowledge about a lot of grounds in India and how different wickets play and stuff like that."
Even as Australia laboured in Bangladesh, India had an unstoppable run in Sri Lanka, winning a record nine games across formats. Smith was aware of what Australia were coming up against. "We have been following the India-Lanka series in bits and pieces," he said. "They are playing some really good cricket. It's a good challenge for us. It' s always tough playing India in India. They are very good ODI side. Just seeing the side they have announced, it looks like a strong side. We are excited by the challenge of the series."
With Australia set to play the Ashes in November, there were suggestions that the limited-overs series against India, comprising five ODIs and three T20s, wasn't ideal preparation. Smith, however, didn't think that way. "I know before the last Ashes series there was a ODI tour with India much like this one," he said. "We've got plenty of time, we get back home and get to play [first-class Sheffield] Shield games and get ready for the Ashes."