As one of 10 players in Australia’s squad without Test match experience in India, Peter Handscomb says he will be relying on the knowledge he gained from an Australia A tour to the subcontinent two years ago when he returns there for his biggest challenge yet.
Handscomb and his Australia teammates are currently in Dubai in a pre-tour training camp ahead of the four-Test Qantas Tour of India, which begins on February 23 in Pune.
While the pitches at the ICC Cricket Academy, where the Australians are training, have reportedly mirrored the conditions expected in India, the pressure, intensity and atmosphere of Test match cricket in the subcontinent is much harder to replicate.
It’s why the Victorian will be drawing on his experiences from the 2015 Australia A tour of India where the visitors played two first-class matches in Chennai against India A.
Handscomb had a mixed series; after scoring 91 in his first innings on tour, the right-hander failed to trouble the scorers in his next two visits to the crease.
Despite not being the most productive series with the bat against the red SG ball, Handscomb took plenty away from that tour and how to counter spin bowling in India.
“I learnt to back my own game plan, back my skills, try not to be too worried about what the ball is doing off the wicket and still be confident coming down the track but also off the back foot and if I need to sweep, try and sweep as well,” Handscomb said in Dubai on Thursday.
As a noted player of spin bowling, the 26-year-old also outlined how he’ll approach India’s master slow bowlers, which include the top-two Test bowlers in the world – Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
“I’ll be looking to use my feet and be positive going either forward or back to the spinners,” he said.
“Finding a game plan there, sticking to it and hopefully scoring some runs.”
Handscomb has displayed a liking for coming down the wicket to the spinners in his brief Test career, but he’s yet to wear the Baggy Green on foreign soil, away from the comforts of home where the turning ball is not a threat.
India, however, is a much different story, and facing spin in the subcontinent will be a new challenge to prolific middle-order batsman.
“I guess it just turns more and it’s unpredictable turn,” Handscomb said when asked what the difference is playing spin bowling on Indian pitches to those at home.
“From the middle of the wicket it can go relatively straight by the looks of it but out of the footmarks or even wide of the centre of the wicket it can really spin and quite aggressively.
“It’ll just be trusting our defence and seeing how we go.”
Australia begin their two-day intra-squad match today (Frida) in Dubai before flying to India on Monday.