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Pink-ball warm-up takeaways: Will India go with an all-pace attack in Adelaide? And Pant or Saha?

Also, just why India's set batsmen need to carry on during twilight come the Adelaide Test

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Mohammed Shami celebrates with team-mates after dismissing Marcus Harris  •  Getty Images

Mohammed Shami celebrates with team-mates after dismissing Marcus Harris  •  Getty Images

The first day of the pink-ball warm-up game between Australia A and the Indians ended with ball dominating bat, as India finished with an 86-run lead. The ball especially troubled the batsmen under lights, as the visitors edged ahead. ESPNcricinfo looks at some takeaways for India ahead of the first Test against Australia, in Adelaide, which will also be day-night affair.
No spinner in the Indians' XI
That the Indians chose to play neither offspinner R Ashwin nor left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav in this match could mean one of three things. Let's start with the most dramatic possibility first: India are toying with the idea of four quicks in Adelaide. If they are indeed thinking along those lines, it is not without merit. In seven day-night Tests in Australia - four of which have been held in Adelaide - spin averages close to 50 per wicket despite an impressive average of 26 for the home spinner Nathan Lyon. Among the visiting spinners to struggle, the most prominent name is Pakistan legspinner Yasir Shah. Thus, it can perhaps be argued that there might still be something in there for playing a spinner of the pedigree of Ashwin, but equally there might be a case for not playing any except that it could leave India with a long tail.
The other reason could be that India saw enough of Ashwin and Kuldeep in the first warm-up to decide on Ashwin for Adelaide and have left this second match for those who need more practice. Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah required overs under belts and some long-format rhythm, while Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj could still be in a contest for the final spot in the pace attack. Umesh Yadav, though, remains the frontrunner for the third seamer's slot.
The third - and worrying - reason for India could be to manage the workload of Ashwin, who wasn't at his fittest during the IPL. With Ravindra Jadeja already struggling with a hamstring injury and concussion, India could do better than to have to cotton-wool their only experienced spinner.
Set batsmen need to carry on
During the 63-run second wicket partnership between Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill that went at nearly ten an over, the ball hardly moved off the pitch before one that suddenly seamed back in a couple of feet to bowl Shaw. But by about the 20th over and close to the twilight period, the ball had started to do plenty. In the first 40 minutes of the second session, it seemed all Australia needed to do was to land the ball at the right place; from 72 for 1, the Indians eventually lost eight wickets for 51 runs.
If day-night Test cricket has taught us anything in its brief history, it is these variables: there can be the pockets of play - usually once it starts getting dark - where bowlers can run away with the game in a session. The only way to get through these phases has been for set batsmen to continue playing through, as new batsmen find it extremely hard to start in these conditions.
It has emerged that Saha didn't play ahead of Pant in the first tour game due to any preference, but because Pant had woken up with a sore neck. However, Saha had used that opportunity to score a match-saving half-century, showing he too can bat in Australia. That possibly resulted in a bat-off between the two wicketkeepers today, as Pant scored five and Saha nought. The big gloves went to Pant, but Saha pulled off a stunner in the field, running back to take one over his shoulder.
Head injury protocols
When Cameron Green hit Jasprit Bumrah on the head, Bumrah immediately signalled to everyone he was fine and tried to wave away the medical attention. The umpires had to step in and ask the Indian medical staff to come and check on Bumrah and his helmet. This is a significant event coming on the heels of a concussion to Jadeja during the first T20I on the tour, for which he was tested only during the innings break. He was allowed to bat for four balls against high-quality fast bowling with a possible concussion. And if Bumrah would have had his way, he would have refused immediate attention today. Rather than leave this protocol up to the player, testing them after every blow to the head should be mandatory.
Shami, Bumrah look dangerous
It was a little surprising when both Bumrah and Shami played neither the last two T20Is nor the Test warm-up in the week gone by, but that was result of a well-earned trust between Virat Kohli and his fast bowlers. They wanted some rest, and were given their dues. And when they came back on the park for this three-day fixture before the first Test that begins on December 17, both looked in ominous form.
The pink ball was moving under lights, and they hardly bowled any loose deliveries. The pitch made them look sensational, but their pace was up, the seam movement was pronounced and even long spells were bowled. Fortunately for the pair, it rained for long enough when it was time for their spells to end, thus giving Shami an extended break to provide further nightmares to the batsmen, as he ended up bowling 11 overs on the trot. Whoever the third - and fourth, if needed - quick might be for India, the top two showed they were ready.
While Bumrah scoring his maiden first-class fifty and walking out to a guard of honour from his team-mates was the highlight of the day, the bowling form - 20 overs between them for 62 runs and five wickets - of him and Shami might be India's biggest positive from the day.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo