India will take on Australia in the WTC final at the Oval in London from June 7-11.
Axar also highlighted the challenges of transitioning between different formats of the game and adapting to varying conditions. As players, they need to adjust their mindset and techniques according to the demands of Test cricket, which can be different from limited-overs formats like the IPL.
“We knew about this before the start of IPL,” Axar told the ICC during a break at the practice session.
“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. Those who did not qualify [for IPL Playoffs] got more time. So I do not think there will be many problems because we have had a good time to prepare,” added the all-rounder.
The WTC Final will use the Dukes ball, which is used in English settings, while India plays their red-ball matches at home with the SG ball. Axar claimed that while they were practising with the Dukes ball during the IPL, the main objective was always to hit in the proper place.
“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. 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,” Axar said.
“So that is what we are doing. Since the match is in England, which is different from India, we are planning what lines and lengths will work here. The same thing in practice, we are good to go,” added the all-rounder.
In addition to the abrupt format shift, adjusting to England’s comparatively temperate weather after the oppressive heat of the Indian summer presents another difficulty.
“We came after playing IPL, where it was 40-45 degrees in India. After that, it feels great here. We have taken out our winter clothes and are roaming around wearing jumpers. It is also a bit windy. Whenever we come to the UK, we enjoy the weather. It remains a little cool, there is no heat.”
Adapting quickly to changes in conditions, pitch characteristics, and game dynamics is crucial for success in international Test matches.
Overall, Axar emphasised the significance of meticulous preparations and the ability to adapt as key factors in India’s approach to the World Test Championship Final.
“Obviously, the conditions in India and England are different. The fast bowlers have more of a role here. In India, spinners play a more important role. 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 will leave the planning to our bowling coach,” concluded Axar.