There is nothing official about Sunday's warm-up match between India and Australia, but expect no let-up in intensity when play starts at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Although there are no rewards for doing well, the pride factor is expected to bring the best out of the two heavyweights.
For India, this game and the one against New Zealand in Chennai on Wednesday will give them a chance to sort out the batting order. After a while, everyone is available and the combination has to be finalised before they face Bangladesh in Dhaka on February 19.
Indications are that Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag Gautam Gambhir will take the first three slots. With Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan expected to follow, Suresh Raina is likely to be left out. But that will become clear after the two practice games.
The Indians trained hard and long at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) on Saturday, and the focus they showed confirmed that they are keen to score early points. Quite a few of the batsmen spent extra minutes at the nets in order to get a good feel of the ball on bat.
Tendulkar spent a long time with NCA batting consultant Dinesh Nanavati and listened patiently when the elderly gentleman demonstrated a thing or two about feet movement.
Things got risky for onlookers when Pathan started clobbering the ball from the centre of the ground. His monstrous hits were clearing the fence with alarming regularity. Yuvraj and Gambhir too looked intent on tightening up the loose areas by opting to stay in the middle longer than the others.
Zaheer Khan was the only one missing and although there was no official confirmation, it was learnt that all is well with India's principal fast bowler.
The Australians came for practice in the afternoon and before that during an interaction, Michael Clarke spoke about the mood in the camp. "We look to win every time we take the field and there is no chance of taking this match lightly just because it is unofficial."
The vice-captain said the ghost of the Ashes was behind them. "Yes, the beginning of the summer wasn't good for us but we are here on the back some consistent one-day form. We take a lot of confidence from our 6-1 win against England in ODIs. If we continue with that, we will have a good crack at the title."