Following the debacle in England, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is leaving no stone unturned in terms of preparations for the Australia tour.
In a welcome move, the BCCI has decided to send young fast bowler Umesh Yadav along with the Test regulars early to get a feel of the conditions in Australia, ahead of the Test series starting on December 26.
It was confirmed to HT that Yadav, with six other players and four support staff, will leave on December 8. The rest of the squad will leave after the last ODI on December 11.
Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha and Wriddhiman Saha are the others who will depart early. The national selectors and the team management felt Yadav "would be better off getting used to Australian conditions rather than playing in two meaningless ODIs against West Indies".
Taking into consideration that there would be a lack of net bowlers, the BCCI has also decided to send Raghu, from the National Cricket Academy, who operates the bowling machine.
Irfan to return?
With Yadav set to leave early, Baroda speedster Irfan Pathan has emerged the front-runner to be named as Praveen Kumar's injury replacement, for both the Australia Tests and the last two ODIs versus West Indies.
Irfan, who last played for India more than two years ago, has been in fine form in the Ranji Trophy, picking five-wicket innings hauls in each of Baroda's first three Super League outings. The other contenders for the Tests are R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun, who are both in the ODI squad.