Star Australia batter Marnus Labuschagne can’t wait to engage in a “lovely game of chess” with Ravichandran Ashwin during next month’s Test tour of India after making required changes in his game to combat the ace spinner.
Australia, who haven’t won a Test series in India since 2004, will play four Tests in Nagpur (February 9-13), New Delhi (February 17-21), Dharamsala (March 1-5) and Ahmedabad (March 9-13).
Labuschagne was dismissed twice by Ashwin even though he emerged as the leading run-scorer in the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia with 426 runs at an average of 53.25.
“I’ve changed some of my game because of what I’ve heard about Ashwin and how he bowled to me,” Labuschagne was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“I’ve adapted my game to try and foil a few of his ideas and ways he goes about it. It’s going to be a lovely game of chess and I can’t wait for it.”
The 28-year-old said he started his preparation for the India tour right after the 2020-21 home series.
“The preparation starts so far back,” said Labuschagne, who is currently playing for the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League (BBL) 2022-23.
“People think, right now it’s Big Bash then you start thinking – but the thinking happens way ahead. You start processing everything in your mind, you go through every scenario of what bowler you are going to come across.
“I’ve already thought about my plans, so now it’s just about executing. Finding out, ‘That works, that doesn’t work. How can that part of my game fit in?’, and just piece the puzzle together.”
Australia will have a short training camp in Sydney in January end. They are scheduled to arrive in India just seven days before the Nagpur Test.
World Test Championship Final
The four-Test series also gains significance as it will decide table-toppers Australia’s opponents in the finals of the World Test Championship Final in June before they take on England in the Ashes.
“Can’t wait, so excited for the next 10 Test matches,” Labuschagne said.
“We’ve played really well, people know we are very good at home, very tough to beat… but the challenge we have going two away series in a row, that’s going to be awesome.
“I can’t wait for the challenge against spin in India and can’t wait for the challenge of Bazball versus Ronball.”