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India apparently using SL series, starting on Thursday, to prepare for SA challenge

Kolkata : After back-to-back limited-overs series against Australia and New Zealand, India are back in Test mode. First up, they will take on Sri Lanka in a three-match home series, starting on Thursday in Kolkata, followed by the tours of South Africa in January and England in July. The Lankan series, therefore, will offer them a much-needed opportunity to get into the Test mindset before they embark on tough away tours.
On Monday, for their first practice session ahead of the series, the Indian team hit the ground running. Except for Saurashtra players Ravindra Jadeja and Cheteshwar Pujara, who played in the Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat that ended yesterday, the entire team sweated it out for nearly two-and-a-half hours in the afternoon. While skipper Virat Kohli and a few others opted to face a lot of bouncers, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane chose to spend much of the time practising reverse sweep. “It’s how you react to a particular ball. It’s not that we have planned differently for a particular bowler. There’s no compulsory shot like that,” said icketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha said after the practice session.
SA tour on mind
It made perfect sense for the batsmen to fine-tune their sweep shots, both conventional and reverse, ahead of the Lanka series, but devoting a lot of time to rising deliveries seemed a little out of place. Have India already started preparing for the South African tour, where the rising deliveries will test them? Saha, however, said the entire focus at the moment was on the Lanka tour. “Every Test is a challenge. Sri Lanka series is not a preparation for South Africa. If we do well here, then we can think of South Africa,” said Saha. Interestingly, a few days back, the wicketkeeper had said that the Lanka series would be a good opportunity to prepare for the Proteas challenge. India will play three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is against the Proteas. The first Test will start on January 5 in Cape Town.

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