Labuschagne plotting how to solve Ashwin's puzzle

Labuschagne plotting how to solve Ashwin’s puzzle

Marnus Labuschagne is excited about the “chess game” with R Ashvin during the Test series next month with his mind set on the challenge since the last meeting between the teams ended.

The contest between the two was one of the fascinating duels in Australia’s epic 2020-21 series which India won at the Gabba. Ashwin knocked out Labuschagne twice in six innings with honors ending nearly tied in the head-to-head before Ashwin missed the litmus test.

This will be Labuschagne’s first test tour of India – he made his ODI debut there in early 2020 – and he has long been planning how he will tackle Ashwin who is a central figure in the series of four matches which starts in Nagpur on February 9.

“Since [the last series] I already started thinking,” Labuschagne said. “I changed part of my game because of what I heard about Ashwin and the way he bowled me. I’ve adapted my game to try to thwart some of his ideas and ways of doing things, so it’s going to be a great game of chess and I can’t wait.”

Labuschagne’s sub-continental Test experience comes from the five matches he last played against Pakistan and Sri Lanka where he had mixed success. The culmination was a century in the second Test in Gallebut his dismissal for 104 came at a crucial time when Australia let slip a position of strength.

Labuschagne is currently on BBL duty with Brisbane Heat following the conclusion of the Test series against South Africa. Australia are due to hold a brief training camp in Sydney towards the end of January and will arrive in India just seven days before the opening test.

“People think, right now it’s Big Bash, and then you start thinking, but the thinking is happening way in advance,” he said. “You start processing everything in your mind, you go through all the scenarios of the bowler you’re going to encounter. I’ve already thought of my plans, so now it’s just about executing… piece the puzzle together and make sure the puzzle is ready when it’s game time. That’s key, and that’s how all the preparation goes.

Labuschagne will be part of a stable Australian batting order, but Steven Smith will likely be key to their hopes in the series, bringing India an average of 60.00. The connection between Smith and Labuschagne is well known and is further illustrated in season two of The test which comes out on Friday.

“We’re still talking about this game and what’s coming up and how we’re going to go about it,” Labuschagne said. “I think the important part is that once we get there, we’ve already gone through all the scenarios and that’s where his experience and a lot of the other guys’ experience will come in very handy.”

The series in India begins Australia’s quest for three major Test awards overseas with a likely World Test Championship final in June – likely against India again – ahead of the Ashes.

“I can’t wait, so excited for the next 10 test matches,” said Labuschagne. “We played really well, people know we’re very good at home, very hard to beat… but the challenge we have to do two away sets in a row, it’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to it. take the challenge against turning in India and I can’t wait to take the challenge from Bazball to Ronball.”

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