Rohit Sharma wary of Australia’s superb record in ICC events

Published October 8, 2023
This file photo shows India captain Rohit Sharma during a conversation with the Board of Control for Cricket in India. — Photo courtesy BCCI Twitter
This file photo shows India captain Rohit Sharma during a conversation with the Board of Control for Cricket in India. — Photo courtesy BCCI Twitter

CHENNAI: Indian captain Rohit Sharma is aware of Australia’s awe-inspiring record in global events and warned his team-mates not to lower their guard against them in their first match of the 50-overs World Cup in Chennai on Sunday.

India are currently the top-ranked ODI team and they beat Australia 2-1 last month in a series before heading into the World Cup determined to repeat their 2011 feat when they won the trophy on home soil.

“Australia being Australia, we know how they play in ICC tournaments,” Rohit told reporters on Saturday ahead of their clash against the five-time champions. “There is a reason they have so many championships.

“So for us it will be very important that we stick to what we want to do as a team, focus on our strengths and assess the conditions here.”

The conditions will feel almost equally familiar to Australia, pointed out Rohit, thanks to their participation in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

“It’s absolutely true that they [Australians] play a lot of cricket here,” the Indian captain said.

“In terms of how they plan their schedule, it’s pretty good.

“They know what is at stake, World Cup in India, so they make sure they play as much ODIs as possible in India.”

India will take a late call on the participation of opener Shubman Gill, who is recovering from dengue fever. Should he miss out, left-handed Ishan Kishan is likely to be Rohit’s opening partner though KL Rahul is also an option.

CUMMINS EXPECTS SPINNERS TO SHINE

For Australia, Adam Zampa has added another chapter to their bookful of freak accidents but skipper Pat Cummins has no concerns about getting 20 overs out of his spinners heading into the opener against India.

Leg-spinner Zampa, who will be leading Australia’s spin attack in the tournament with Glenn Maxwell as his sidekick, wore a cut on his face during training after a mishap in the swimming pool.

“He swam into the pool wall apparently,” Cummins told reporters on Saturday.

“He said he had his eyes closed and thought he was swimming in a straight line and swam into the step in the pool… He’s all good he’s just a little bit sore.”

It must have appeared familiar to Cummins, who filmed an absent-minded Alex Carey, their preferred stumper in the World Cup squad, walking straight into a hotel swimming pool in Karachi last year.

All-rounder Maxwell himself missed the entire 2022-23 summer after a freak incident in which he got his leg broken at a birthday party where he was fooling around.

More recently the 34-year-old impressed with his bowling in the ODI series against India and will be confident of troubling batters in conditions that suit his craft.

“We’ve seen Max, he’s a front-line spin bowler,” Cummins said of the all-rounder.

“In the 2015 World Cup, he was the sole spinner in basically every single match I think other than one, so really happy with how he’s going.

“I thought he bowled really well in that third ODI against India (last month). So yeah, we’ve got 20 overs of spin out there if we need it.”

Australia’s batters will have their task cut out in Chennai, where conditions usually assist spinners, and left-handed opener David Warner may have provided a glimpse of that when he tried a radical approach in the second ODI last month.

In that match in Indore, Warner briefly flipped his batting stance to right-handed to try and negate off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Cummins said his batters would have their plans against the Indian bowlers — though it may not involve more ambidextrous batting.

“They’re a good bowling lineup, especially here in home conditions. So they’re going to be challenging,” Cummins said.

“The good thing is we’ve played them a lot. So our batters will have their own plans.”

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2023

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