Steve Smith’s return is a big plus for Australia and a “big headache” for Team India, feels Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell ahead of the blockbuster clash which begins next week.
Smith, along with Warner, was not part of the 2018-19 series against India when Virat Kohli’s men won the Test and the ODI series Down Under. The three-match T20I series was tied 1-1 as one of the matches was washed out.
However, both Smith and Warner are part of all the three squads which will take on India in the much-anticipated fixtures beginning November 27. Smith was not part of Australia’s last ODI series in England because of the concussion he suffered during a net session.
“To have someone like Steve Smith coming back to our side, it is going to be a big plus for us, a big headache for India. Smith has always scored runs against them,” Maxwell said during a select media interaction organised by series official broadcasters Sony.
While Australia are slated to have both their star performers for all 10 matches against India, the visitors will be without their star opener Rohit Sharma in the limited-overs leg of the tour.
Rohit is recuperating from a hamstring injury sustained during the Indian Premier League and is slated to join the Indian team for the Test series. In his absence, KL Rahul will serve as Virat Kohli’s deputy in the three ODIs and three T20Is.
Maxwell feels Rohit’s absence is a big “positive” for the hosts. “He (Rohit) is a class performer, so consistent as an opening batsman with a couple of (three) double hundreds. So anytime he is not in the line-up against you, it is a positive,” Maxwell said.
However, he also says that Rahul is as good a back-up as any team can wish for.
“But in saying that, India have still got back-ups, more than capable of playing that role. We saw KL Rahul, the performance that he put on during the last IPL was extraordinary. Whether he opens the batting or not, I am sure he will be just as good a player,” he said.
In Rohit’s absence, it is likely that Mayank Agarwal will open the innings alongside Shikhar Dhawan while Rahul, who will also be performing the wicket-keeping duties, is expected to bat middle-order.
“Well, I would say they (Mayank-Rahul) are the two lovely guys I have ever met. It was a pleasure to spend the change room (with them), two very good players, they score all-round the wicket and have got very limited weaknesses,” Maxwell, who spent time with Mayank and Rahul at the Kings XI Punjab, said.
“I suppose ODI cricket might be a bit different (compared T20). Hopefully, with our bowling attack, we can put some pressure on them and with bounce in the pitches and bigger grounds as well, they play into our hands. They are good performers, and good players,” he added.
Maxwell believes Mohammed Shami’s skills as both a “new ball and old ball” bowler will be a key for India. “A guy like Mohammed Shami, whom I have played with in the recent IPL and played with him in Delhi, as well. (I) saw the skill that he has.
“He has got good skills at the end (death overs) as well as with the new ball. His ability to get moving on pitches will be a key to them,” said Maxwell.
Australia vs India: Ishant, Rohit’s absence in Tests no concern to us, says Justin Langer
Australia head coach Justin Langer has said that the likely absence of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma from the first two Tests of the upcoming Border-Gavaskar Trophy will have no bearing on the hosts’ psyche and the frequent limited-overs match-ups between the two sides in recent times will eventually help them in facing the Indian challenge.
“Not our business, we have got our challenges. We will come together as a group for the first time on the morning of the game. It is up to India what they do and who they choose as we have zero control over things. One thing I have learnt through Covid-19 is that if you get caught up with things you can’t control, you literally go crazy. They can pick whoever they want but we have our own challenges so who they pick (as replacements), we’ll go ahead and face them,” said Langer while responding to a question from IANS on whether the absence of Ishant and Rohit from the first two Tests will affect the Australians.
Both Rohit and Ishant are undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy and there have been reports that the duo might miss the first half of the Test series as they will recover late and will have to undergo hard quarantine upon arrival in Australia which will make it impossible for them to play the first two matches to be played at the Adelaide Oval (December 17-21) and Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26-30).
Langer added that since both the sides have played each other frequently in limited-overs cricket in recent times, it has helped Australia batsmen have a measure of the Indian bowling. This is apart from the IPL experience, he says.
“We know that (Jasprit) Bumrah is world-class, with (Mohammed) Shami (that is a) really good opening combination. Our guys have seen fair bit of them through the IPL, through the last couple of summers, we’ve played 14 ODIs and it is seven-all. Our guys have seen a lot of each other. That is what I love about the contests. How teams are growing, we have played a bit against each other. We have great respect for their spinners, for Bumrah, Shami, their other bowlers, like (Navdeep) Saini. Our guys know they will be on their toes against the Indian bowling attack. They are working hard, they’ve seen a bit and they’ll be ready for it,” said Langer.
Before the Test series, Australia and India will compete in three ODIs and as many T20Is starting Friday. The matches will be broadcast live on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3 and Sony Six channels.
Australia vs India: Ricky Ponting’s arms ‘falling off’ while giving throwdowns to Smith
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who coached Delhi Capitals to the final of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) a fortnight ago, is busy giving throwdowns to Steve Smith as, unlike the Indian team, there is no throwdown specialist within the Australian team.
“That is where we have to help each other. I had been a batting coach 10 years ago, for 2-3 years then, it is a really tough job. Sadly, in these times, we don’t have Graeme Hick with us. In the past we had Michael di Venuto with the team (both to help batting). It (helping the batsmen) is a big role. I know Ricky Ponting, his arms have fallen off from throwing to Steve Smith over the last 10 days or so,” Australia head coach Justin Langer, who is taking care of the players who had not been to the IPL and are training at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) ahead of the all-format series against India, said on Wednesday.
Those returning from IPL, like Smith, David Warner and Ponting, are lodged at Sydney Olympic Park and training separately.
“I always had a joke with Punter (Ponting) over the last few months, how it is to throw to Steve Smith. Our boys love to hit balls, they only get better. That is part of our job. We have to keep preparing our boys as best as possible and we have to do that, whether it is through throwdown specialists. Time will tell. (But) we have got a pretty good system,” added Langer.
Unlike the Australian team, the entire Indian team in Sydney is located at one place, the Sydney Olympic Park. They stay in touch with each other during practice. The two Aussie groups will assemble only on the day of the match.
“We are working hard. Warner, Smith, Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) are facing (Pat) Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Dan Sams and Andrew Tye. At the SCG, against (Michael) Starc, Michael Nesser, Sean Abbott are helping the players who are here (not been to IPL). The Australia A bowlers are also keeping their loads up at SCG. The boys will be ready,” said Langer.
The Australia head coach further said that despite their top bowlers having played a bit of cricket in recent times, they are looking to field them in all the Test matches and not thinking of resting them.
“I say that with great respect to others, I hope not (that Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood don’t play and rest) because our bowlers, those three guys, if they are fit and healthy and firing, they will play all Tests. That is how it is going to be. About the old saying that it is harder to get out of the team than it is to get into team I said two years back when I got the job. That’s what we want,” Langer said.
“It is great to see competition building in domestic cricket. We are going to hope we are bowling well, they are fit and healthy – we have three first peak bowlers. But who knows (if something happens to them). Through these last 8-9 months of Covid, we have had to be agile and take on challenges. Guys we have brought in now (as back-ups) are (also) good, seasoned cricketers,” he added.
India and Australia will begin the much-anticipated clash with the three-match ODI series starting Friday.
Cricket Australia confirms charity partners for 2020-21 season
Cricket Australia. (Photo: Twitter/@CAComms)
Cricket Australia has confirmed the 2020-21 Cricket Cares program, naming its official charity partners across matches for the season ahead which includes Day 5 gold coin donations during the upcoming Test series against India.
The Alannah & Madeline Foundation, McGrath Foundation, Movember and Taverners Australia will align to fixtures across the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) Finals and the men’s international calendar.
The fixtures will provide each charity partner with an opportunity to raise awareness for their respective areas, along with the opportunity to fundraise.
The 2019-20 season resulted in $3.15 million raised for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund through The Big Appeal, along with more than $780,000 being raised for various bushfire relief organisations. The Cricket Cares program also raised $1.69 million for its charity partners last season, Cricket Australia said in a media release.
Day 5 gold coin donations will continue this year after being permanently introduced in 2018-19, the last time India toured Australia, with all proceeds of entry to the ground going to the nominated charity partner.
Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s Interim CEO said, “We’re proud to continue our long-standing partnerships with the McGrath Foundation, Movember, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation and Taverners Australia,” Hockley said.
“As a sporting organisation, we believe we have a responsibility to raise awareness about these important causes, and in doing so raise much needed funds to help make a difference in the community. Having a presence at matches allows our charity partners to connect with fans and educate them about the life-changing work they do. We are grateful to the cricket community for supporting their fundraising efforts,” he added.
Australia are slated to face India in three ODIs, three T20Is and four Test matches beginning Friday in Sydney.
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