After yet another insipid batting display that has put them in a precarious situation at the MCG, fast bowler Pat Cummins has admitted that the Australian team is missing their star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, who are serving a one-year ban for their role in the ball tampering scandal earlier this year.
Australia were bowled out for 151 in their first innings, conceding a massive 292 run first innings lead.
“It’s always going to be hard missing two of your best players,” Cummins said. “We’ve known for nine months (that Steve Smith and David Warner won’t be available). Others have to stand up. It probably highlights the class they’ve had in previous years but we’ve got find to find a way.
“Everyone here is good enough. They’ve done it at the level below, all of them are the best (Sheffield) Shield players and most of them have done it for Australia before. Wicket feels pretty good still, so everyone feels like in the second innings they can face more balls and get going.”
In contrast, India produced a strong first innings performance, scoring a massive 443/7 before declaring their innings with Cheteshwar Pujara (106) and Virat Kohli (82) forging a partnership of 170. Cummins said the stand was the ideal template for how to construct a Test match innings.
“What we saw from India’s first innings, we saw temperament of Pujara and Virat and how they pace their innings,” he said. “They absorb pressure because on this kind of wicket, it is hard to score runs.
“You have to face a lot of balls to get big scores and it is probably one of those wickets where you do the hard work early. Keep absorbing pressure and score later, but evidently it did not work for us today.”
By the end of day three’s play, courtesy Cummins’ four-wicket burst, Australia had reduced India to 54/5, giving them a glimmer of hope although India have already established a lead of 346.
“I am pretty tired, exhausted but the good thing is that coming into this series I felt really fresh,” he said. “Hopefully, there won’t be too many overs tomorrow and we won’t have to bowl last in this game. So, hopefully there will be a 4-5 day break before Sydney.
“If we knock them over in the morning, you just never know. We tried to make it very hard for every run. The wicket is still pretty good, tough to score runs. But we saw last year we batted really well on day four and five (at the MCG), you dare to dream.
“But it’s still a long way left in the game. For India to move the game forward will be hard tomorrow. They will have to bat long and we will just take it as deep as possible.”