There was a time in the press conference when Steven Smith candidly gave away what Australia made of the conditions. Smith was talking about the importance of having individual plans in place before going out to bat against spin in Asia. And he said you need to prepare beforehand for R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and "the other spinner they are going to choose tomorrow". Australia have seen a dry pitch, and are expecting it to be a bit like Delhi was the last time around. Whether it is just panic or not will be known only on Thursday.
Smith told reporters that the pitch was "incredibly dry". "I think it will take spin from ball one," Smith said. "There are a couple of divots out of the wicket as well. I haven't really seen a wicket like that before a Test match, so I think it is going to take a lot of spin and potentially some up and down movement for the fast bowlers as well."
While Smith was certain India were going in with three spinners, Australia themselves are thinking of three, which could mean Josh Hazlewood or Mitch Marsh might sit out. Smith explained the logic of playing three spinners if Australia do.
"When someone started to look a little bit comfortable against one of the spinners, they'd just change it and bowl someone else," Smith said. "And then when they start looking comfortable against them they go back. And you can chop and change and not let the batter get in a bit of a rhythm against a spinner. I guess that's part of the thinking behind potentially playing three spinners. But we'll wait and see."
India's captain Virat Kohli agreed the pitch was dry, but didn't seem as alarmed as Australia might have been. "Even in the one-day games that we have played here, the surface was dry underneath," Kohli said. "It had a decent covering of grass, which you need to keep for the surface to hold itself together. This time of the year when the summer comes in, the wicket tends to get slower and lower. So that's what we expect from this wicket as well. We expect it to turn from day two, day three, whatever it is. In general, it's going to be a very basic Pune wicket, what we always expect during summer time because it gets very hot and dry. Very difficult to keep the wicket together. We understand exactly how the wicket's going to play."
Kohli didn't want to make too much of the plans Australia might have. "We are not worried about the opposition's combinations or what they want to come up with," Kohli said. "We are pretty comfortable with what we want to do. We are pretty sure about how we want to go about this game and the series. That's our strength, not focusing on opposition too much. We are aware of their skills, but that doesn't mean we will wait for the opposition to come out with their XI and then decide how we are going to play.
"Certain preparations we have done and we have a good headspace going into the series. Everyone feeling confident, that's the most important thing. If you are not feeling good mentally, you could have any combination you are up against or you could play with any combination, that won't work. We are in good space as a team and are not bothered about the opposition combination."
However, Kohli did suggest the pitches were going to be more spinner-friendly now than they were against England because of the weather. It has been quite hot for February in Pune, and the mercury has only one direction to travel in the next month: up.
When Kohli was asked about Australia veering away from their strengths of relying quick bowlers and bringing five spinners on tour, he said: "I am not surprised. Coming to India, playing in summers, wickets are meant to be dry and they are meant to turn. You will have a stronger spin bowling attack then getting six-seven fast bowlers. That is a pretty natural selection."
Smith and Kohli made their captaincy debut in the same series, on India's last trip to Australia. They both have made strides towards taking their team to the next level, but Smith seems to have hit a block with the series defeat in Sri Lanka and at home against South Africa. This series - with lesser spinners at his disposal compared to India's - is his big test as captain.
"I learnt quite a lot out of playing in Sri Lanka," Smith said. "Things didn't go to plan there, but as a captain I've learnt a bit about how to go about things in the subcontinent. Playing in these conditions, there's a different tempo that always goes on, times when you need to attack and times when you need to defend. So for me as captain, it's about identifying these periods quickly and not letting the game get away too much before you start to defend, or attacking quick enough. For me, it's about identifying those moments and coming up with the right plan at the right time."