Australian vice-captain Pat Cummins has revealed that his side are yet to devise plans for Cheteshwar Pujara, who slayed the hosts two years ago, but stated that he, personally, will focus on doing the right things. Cummins also warned that the Tests might get more fiery than the limited-over games.
At 41/4 on the first day of the 2018/19 Border Gavaskar Trophy, the Australians had the visiting Indian side on the ropes, and looked all set to assert their authority despite the absence of Smith and Warner, but it would be then that the Cheteshwar Pujara truck would run over them. Pujara would go on to score an impeccable 123 on a spicy Adelaide wicket to take India over the line in the first Test and would back it up with tons in Melbourne and Sydney to seal India their first-ever Test series win Down Under.
Two years on, the scars are still fresh in the mind of the Aussies, who know that Pujara, once again, will be the wall that will stand between them and victory, particularly in the absence of Kohli.
The Aussies failed to devise a viable ploy to dismiss Pujara two years ago, but despite marauding him with short balls in the warm-up game at the Drummoyne Oval, vice-captain Pat Cummins has revealed that his side are yet to talk about how they plan to get the better of the 32-year-old.
"To be honest, we haven't spoken yet. We only got into the camp a couple of days ago,” Cummins said in a virtual press conference on Friday.
“We will sit down and have a couple of meetings and like we do at most training sessions, the bowlers will be talking to each other and come out with some plans. I must concentrate on what I do well as a bowler and the same goes for the other guys. Of course, you might tweak your plans slightly for a certain batter, but hopefully, a couple of years on, we are all better equipped as bowlers."
Given the light-hearted nature of the limited-over games, there were cries that the India-Australia rivalry had lost the fire it once seemed to boast, but Cummins has claimed that he expects the Tests to be a bit fiercer. The 27-year-old admitted that the ODIs and T20Is had nothing more than ‘friendly banter’, but insisted that in terms of quality, there was no shortage of competitiveness.
“I wouldn't be surprised if with the players getting baked in the sun a couple of more hours each day, the Test matches get a little fiery.
“I think it's [the tour] been quite friendly in terms of banter - you see a lot of smiling faces around. That said, you see a lot of quick bowling out there, lots of batters taking the game on. So, I won't say that the actual match play has been overly friendly, it's been really competitive and hard.
“How we play the game reflects who we are as people and for the most part, the Aussie team is a pretty relaxed bunch, we like a bit of a laugh, so let's see what happens in this series.”
The full-time vice captain of the Australian side, Cummins has been touted by many, including former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke, to be the next Test skipper, owing to his natural leadership qualities. With Paine in the wrong side of his thirties, the Aussies could be in the lookout for the next captain as early as Jan/Feb 2022, post the conclusion of the Ashes.
There are fears that captaincy could affect Cummins’ bowling, should he succeed Paine, but the 27-year-old saw no reason why bowlers can’t serve as the captain in the longest format.
“I feel out of all formats, Tests are the easiest for a bowler to captain. You are busy and you got to be out there… putting a lot of effort into your bowling. That said, there's a bit of time that's afforded to you in Tests, the game moves at a slightly softer pace. I know there haven't been too many bowling captain's but I don't understand why it has to be a batter…”