As the excitement of the Indian Premier League (IPL) settles down, the Indian cricket team now faces a quick turnaround as they prepare for the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) Final, which is set to begin on June 7. With several members of the squad already in England, preparations are underway at the Arundel Cricket Club for the highly anticipated showdown against Australia.
Despite catching a glimpse of the thrilling IPL 2023 final, all-rounder Axar Patel, who is part of the training group, assured that the team's focus is firmly on the WTC Final and that their preparations are progressing well. Axar revealed that the transition between formats has its challenges but mentioned that they had already started practicing with the red ball during the IPL season.
"We knew about this before the start of IPL," Axar told the ICC.
"So even during the IPL, it was discussed that we will bowl with the red ball. We had red balls, so we were using them. You know when and how to play, how much time you have. This mental switch from white ball to red ball is obviously tough, but we have enough time."
Axar highlighted that those players who did not qualify for the IPL playoffs had more time to prepare, alleviating concerns about the format switch. He expressed confidence that the team had ample time to adapt and get ready for the challenge ahead.
While India is accustomed to playing with the SG ball in red-ball matches at home, the WTC Final will feature the Dukes ball used in English conditions. Axar mentioned that they had been practicing with the Dukes ball during the IPL and were getting used to it. However, he emphasized that regardless of the ball used, the key is hitting the right spot and executing plans effectively.
"The difference is the Dukes ball remains shinier for longer. But during the IPL, we had ordered the ball, so were practising with it and have gotten used to it," Axar explained.
"As I said, we switch from white ball to red ball. It is a similar switch to go from SG to Dukes; you have to use your talent and skill. You have to execute your plan, your bowling rhythm. Irrespective of the ball, if you bowl a good ball at a good spot, it works."
Adapting to the relatively mild conditions in England after the scorching heat of the Indian summer is another challenge for the team. Axar mentioned that they were enjoying the cooler weather in the UK and had adjusted to the change by wearing winter clothes and embracing the pleasant conditions.
Bowling plans are still being formulated, and Axar is confident in the expertise of the bowling coach to guide the team through the contrasting conditions. He acknowledged that the fast bowlers would have a more prominent role in England, where swing and bounce play a crucial part, while spinners tend to be more effective in Indian conditions.
"The conditions are the same for both teams. In England, the wind assists swing bowling and offers good bounce if you bowl at the right spots. The team is getting together slowly, so the planning will go on. We'll leave the planning to our bowling coach," Axar concluded.
With the IPL behind them, the Indian cricket team is fully focused on the WTC Final, eager to deliver a strong performance and claim the prestigious title. The preparations are in full swing, and the team remains determined and unfazed by the challenges posed by the format switch and the different conditions in England.