Nagpur Test: Cummins, Rohit play down pitch talks
‘You just need to focus on the cricket that will be played on the next five days, and not worry too much about the pitch’
Rival captains Pat Cummins and Rohit Sharma sought to put the focus back on cricket after a section of Australian media accused India of selectively watering the pitch in Nagpur where the four-test series between the sides begins on Thursday.
The pitch at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium finds itself under the spotlight even before the match starts with several Australian media pointing out that groundstaff had left the area outside left-handers’ off-stump dry at both ends.
Australia’s playing XI, which Cummins would not reveal, could potentially feature five left-handed batsmen in their top seven, but the paceman appeared unperturbed.
“That’s part of the challenge of playing away,” Cummins, whose team just need to avoid a 4-0 whitewash to make the final of the World Test Championship in June, told reporters.
“Home teams want to win at home. In Australia, we’re lucky we’ve normally got pace and bounce.”
“Home match advantage, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing. It’s another challenge and makes touring over here even harder when you know the conditions are custom-made for them.”
Cummins said all-rounder Cameron Green, recovering from a finger injury, would miss the opener, joining pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc on the sidelines.
Australia may blood uncapped Todd Murphy alongside fellow off-spinner Nathan Lyon, and Peter Handscomb might pip Matthew Renshaw for the number six position to bring right-handed variety in their southpaw-heavy lineup.
“I think it is a factor over here,” Cummins said.
“With so much traffic from the right-handers’ bowling, at times there is a bit more out there for the left handers.”
Rohit shot down suggestions that India had rolled out a ‘doctored pitch’ for the contest.
“You just need to focus on the cricket that will be played on the next five days, and not worry too much about the pitch,” he told a news conference.
“All 22 players who will be playing here are quality cricketers…You just got to come out and play good cricket to win the game, as simple as that.”
Rohit said batters from both sides would have to think on their feet to counter spin.
“When the ball spins a lot, your method of scoring runs becomes very important,” explained the opener.
“You’ll have to rotate strike, and see how can you score runs – sweep, reverse sweep, using your feet …”
“That’s what we’ve told the boys – ‘find your own ways of scoring runs’. It’s going to be challenging.
“Australia have a couple of quality spinners who can trouble us, no doubt about that.”
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