Australia skipper Pat Cummins on Thursday asserted that his team has a “plan” to tackle Indian spinners in the opening Cricket World Cup match, saying the victory in the third ODI at Rajkot had made the bunch a “confident” lot ahead of the blockbuster clash at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday (October 8).
India won the three-match series 2-1, but Australia won the Rajkot tie by 66 runs after notching a mammoth 352.
Cummins indicated the confidence stemmed from the fact that the Australians had played Indian spinners in the past and done well.
“It (preparation) starts with training for the next few days before the game. The Australian guys play a lot of spin. Our batting order had played a lot in India and done well, so they know most of the (Indian) bowlers and they have a plan (in place).”
“We are really confident. We had a good win in the third ODI (in Rajkot), which is probably a bit closest to our strongest XI. We have had pretty good records in ODIs in India,” added the skipper during a promotional event in Chennai.
Cummins will banking on his “aggressive” opener David Warner, “key player” Glenn Maxwell to guide them to another triumph at the World Cup in Chennai.
While Warner, 36, has struggled for form in the last couple of years, he has peaked at the right time, having scored 390 runs in nine innings this year at an average of 43.33 and a strike rate of 119.26, including four half-centuries and a ton.
During the recent ODI series in India, Warner was in blazing form scoring three consecutive half-centuries and making him the one to watch out for even as speculation over his retirement plans swirls all around.
“Dave’s (Warner) been fantastic in the last month, particularly in white-ball cricket. Not only is he scoring runs, he is being aggressive. He is taking the game on and getting the innings off to a great start,” Cummins said.
“So, I’m expecting a great tournament from Dave. He has been consistent, and I am loving the way he is going about it.”
Australia also played a five-match ODI series against South Africa in the lead-up to the World Cup besides warm-up games against Pakistan and the Netherlands, winning both and giving a strong signal that their preparations for the mega event have been near perfect.
“Feels like a second home (in India). Preparations have been really good, with the five ODIs in South Africa and three against India. Feels like we have got enough games for our playing XI and the bench as well,” he said.
Cummins has captained the Aussies in only four ODIs so far. On whether not leading the side enough in the format puts him under pressure, he said experienced players in the side would make up for that.
“We have got a lot of experience in the side. I have been leaning a lot on the other guys, but I am really well-placed. You get a feel of what exactly is going on out there. You bowl and also make decisions on who you bowl next and what different plans you have. So, that’s a benefit,” he said.
“There’s always decisions to be made, but it feels like the short time that I have been the captain, it has been beneficial to me.”
Just one specialised spinner
Australia just have one a specialist spinner in Adam Zampa, and would be relying heavily on all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for his slow-bowling expertise.
“Max (Maxwell) is a key player for us. He has got an amazing knock; even if he misses out with the bat, he contributes with the ball and vice-versa.”
“In all three facets, he seems to pull off a match-winning move. He had a couple of really good warm-up games and looks right on form, so expect him to be constructive.”
After India, Australia will take on South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and Cummins felt a winning start would be crucial to get the momentum going.
“There are nine round games, so you gotta make sure that you are absolutely peaking for those. And, everything you do in between is about getting right for those nine games.
“Our training sessions might be long, but we do get days off that allow us to recover and prepare better for the upcoming games,” he added.
“It’s tough and you gotta be on your game, right from the start. You can’t have it easy in this tournament. We gotta make sure to start with a couple of wins and ensure that we are on the right track.”
World Test Championship or ODI World Cup
Australia won the World Test Championship final defeating India at The Oval a few months back. Asked about his favourite tournament, he said, “I can say it’s the Test Championship because we won that (chuckles). But, this one (CWC) happens every four years. It’s been the longest and has a history of about 50 years. Whenever there’s an ODI World Cup, it feels a little bit extra special.” The skipper added no team competing in the World Cup was a pushover, adding that India, being the hosts, would be strong.
“It’s funny because you can make a case for every team. Obviously, India’s strong at home, England won the last World Cup, New Zealand seems to be around every final in ICC events, South Africa has a really strong side, and Sri Lanka did well in the Asia Cup.
“Once you look through the teams, Pakistan has also been really strong. It’s gonna be tough, with just four teams making it to the semis.
“(For underdogs), I think it may be Afghanistan. It is normally spoken about as one of the really strong teams. They have got some high-quality spinners and batters who have scored a good amount of runs, so they are potentially there,” he said.