Suryakumar Yadav and Harshal Patel ready for ‘cold’ Australian welcome ‘There are a few butterflies and a lot of excitement’

Suryakumar Yadav and Harshal Patel are among the five members of India’s T20 World Cup squad who have not played top-class cricket in Australia. The others are Arshdeep Singh, Ravi Bishnoi and Deepak Hooda.

Suryakumar was in line to make the trip in December 2020, following a prolific IPL for Mumbai Indians in the UAE, but narrowly missed. Harshal last played in Australia in 2009, during an India Under-19 tour. Now, as they prepare for India’s T20 World Cup campaign, the pair are excited and nervous at the same time.

“I was really looking forward to coming here and attending the first practice session,” Suryakumar told the BCCI website on Sunday. “Just to get on the ground, walk, run and feel what it’s like here. The first net session was really great.

“Of course there were few butterflies and a lot of excitement, but at the same time you also have to look at how you put yourself in that atmosphere and how you peak at the right time. Yes, there is excitement but it’s also important to follow the processes and routines. “

The Indian team will play two warm-up matches against an XI from Western Australia from Monday at the WACA site, the location of their training sessions. Since their arrival on October 6, the 14-man squad, along with the Indian bowling team, have had a day off to recuperate and have since held two skill-based training sessions.

Suryakumar, currently No. 2 among the T20I batters in the ICC rankings, wants to start “a little slow”. The most important thing on his checklist is adjusting to the pace and bouncing and adjusting to ground dimensions significantly larger than what he is used to in India.

Suryakumar is coming off a prolific home season and the Asian Cup. In the T20I series at home to South Africa, he was the top runscorer on both sides, hitting 119 runs in three innings.

“I just wanted to see the pace of the wicket [is] and bounce, so I’m starting a little slow,” he said of playing in Australia. “The dimensions of the ground, people say the terrain is very large, so it’s important to have your game plan ready [accordingly], how you are going to score runs, all those things are important. There is a cold breeze here, but otherwise the conditions are mostly like in India. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Unlike Suryakumar, who took part in the T20 World Cup last year, this will be Harshal’s first tournament. The next two weeks will be crucial for Harshal as he has just recovered from a rib injury that kept him out for six weeks. His return during the recent T20I series against Australia has not been productive, but team management is not yet concerned.

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo in August, Harshal had talked about how the prospect of playing on bigger grounds had led him to work on subtle changes in the length of his slower variations.

“I’ve researched a bit in terms of the lengths I can bowl with the slower ball,” he had said. “Usually when I bowl the slower balls, it’s mostly fuller or of the right length. But now I’ve started bowling more shorter slower balls that work really well for me.”

After two training sessions in Australia, Harshal finds it important to accelerate slowly. “It’s obviously quite cold,” he said. “We are slowly acclimating. The atmosphere is great with the team and we are looking forward to building up to the first game [against Pakistan in Melbourne on October 23]. In these two weeks, the aim is to acclimate to the weather and skills, adapt quickly and by the time our first race starts we should be in top physical and mental condition.”

After the stage in Perth, India will play two warm-up games against Australia (October 17) and New Zealand (October 19) in Brisbane, before flying to Melbourne for their tournament opener against Pakistan. The other teams in India’s Super 12 group are South Africa, Bangladesh and two qualifiers.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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