Australian pacer Pat Cummins expectedly considers Virat Kohli the "big" wicket he would target in the upcoming series against India and said that keeping the visiting captain quiet would be important to the home team's chances.
The Indian cricket team is currently in Australia for a full series that includes three ODIs and as many T20 Internationals followed by a four-Test rubber. The tour will start with ODIs in Sydney on November 27.
"I think every side has that one or two batters and they are the big wickets. Most teams have their captain -- Joe Root for England, Kane Williamson for New Zealand, and Virat Kohli for India. You feel like if you get their wickets that goes a long way in winning the game," Cummins told Fox Sport.
"He (Kohli) is always the big one. The commentators talk about him non-stop, so hopefully, we can keep him quiet," he added.
Cummins, who recently played for Kolkata Knight Riders, is one of the 11 Australian players currently quarantining after returning from the UAE, following the conclusion of the IPL. The 14-day quarantine-cum-training period will end on the eve of the first ODI at the SCG.
"It's good to be back here in Sydney. Obviously, we are quarantined but we are let out for a couple of hours a day. We have been in the middle of it (cricket in bio-secure bubbles) for three or four months now so we're starting to get used to it," the lanky pacer stated.
"But it'll be weird - we get out Thursday night and then we will go and join the boys at a hotel but there is a good chance we won't see them until we literally turn up to the SCG on Friday," Cummins added.
Cummins, who has been named in both the white and red-ball squads as vice-captain, said Australia is well prepared to give the Virat Kohli-led side a tough fight in the series.
"It's going to be huge (the series). Obviously, we are back here on home soil. Other than spending a lot of time in hotels and bubbles, I feel like our preparation has actually been really good."
"We went over to the UK and had a good tour there. Most of the boys here have been playing 14 T20 matches in the last few months and the other guys coming in will be playing shrewd cricket. So, it feels like we're all firing up and got a lot of stuff behind us," he said.
Cummins, who is the no. 1 bowler in the ICC Test rankings, also reckoned that over the past two years, he has improved as a bowler.
The Men in Blue are training hard in the nets for the limited-overs series against Australia which is set to kick-off from November 27. Virat Kohli’s men recently entered the secure bio-bubble after completing their mandatory 14-day quarantine in the Kangaroo nation.
India will miss the services of swashbuckling opener Rohit Sharma, who is yet to recover from his hamstring injury. On the other hand, skipper Virat will also return home after playing the Day-Night Test in Adelaide to be with his wife Anushka Sharma for the birth of their first child.
On the eve of the opening ODI, the BCCI shared a video on its official Twitter handle in which Virat can be seen practicing in the nets and preparing himself for the gruelling action against Aussies. In the clip, the 32-year-old was looking in good touch with the bat as he played some brilliant strokes.
The caption of the video reads, “Timing them to perfection! #TeamIndia skipper @imVkohli getting batting ready ahead of the first ODI against Australia.”
With 1910 runs, the Delhi-born star is India's third-highest run-scorer for India against Kangaroos so far.
Under the leadership of Virat Kohli, the Indian team clinched its maiden Test series on Australian soil in the 2018-19 season.
Former Indian skipper MS Dhoni was grooving into some impromptu dance moves with his wife, Sakshi Singh Dhoni, and daughter, Ziva, in a video posted by his Indian Premier League (IPL) team, Chennai Super Kings.
"Can we stop ourselves from smiling while watching this? Definitely Not," CSK captioned the video on Twitter. Dhoni and his family were seen surrounded by friends at a celebratory party as they all danced seamlessly around one another.
After announcing his retirement from all forms of international cricket earlier this year, Dhoni took part in the recently concluded IPL season. Despite CSK failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in the tournament's history, Dhoni assured that he'll continue as the skipper of CSK next season.
Dhoni is one of the most successful captains in the cash-rich league, having led CSK to three IPL triumphs since the inaugural season in 2008. He is also the 8th all-time top-scorer of IPL, having scored 4632 runs from 204 matches at a strike rate of 136.75 with 22 half-centuries.
As India mourns the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, several Indian cricketers have paid the heartfelt tributes to all those families and security personnel who lost their lives in the dreadful carnage.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli took to his official Twitter handle and paid homage to the martyrs.
“Remembering the innocent lives we lost and our bravehearts who saved many during the 26/11 attacks. You will always be remembered and will forever be in our hearts,” the 32-year-old batsman tweeted.
Remembering the innocent lives we lost and our bravehearts who saved many during the 26/11 attacks. You will always be remembered and will forever be in our hearts. ����— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) November 26, 2020
Meanwhile, former India player and one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar also posted an emotional message on Twitter, saying the wounds may have healed, but the scars remain.
"The wounds may have healed, but the scars remain. Of the lives lost and the sacrifices made. These shall always be a reminder of the strength of the human spirit to overcome any act of adversity. Remembering all our martyrs on this day. #MumbaiTerrorAttack,” said Tendulkar.
The wounds may have healed, but the scars remain. Of the lives lost and the sacrifices made. These shall always be a reminder of the strength of human spirit to overcome any act of adversity.— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) November 26, 2020
Remembering all our martyrs on this day.#MumbaiTerrorAttack
Besides Sachin, another former India player, Gautam Gambhir, also remembered the day as he tweeted, “12 years ago our sovereignty was violated & around 200 innocent souls killed. Never forget 26/11.”
12 years ago our sovereignty was violated & around 200 innocent souls killed. Never forget 26/11 #MumbaiTerrorAttacks— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) November 26, 2020
The attacks, which took place on November 26, 2008, lasted for four days, leading to the death of 166 people and injuring over 300.
On the cricket front, Virat Kohli-led Indian side is currently gearing up to face Australia in the three-match ODI series, starting from November 27.
India's two-month-long tour of Australia is set to commence on Friday with both teams locking horns in the first One-Day International at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). During the tour, fans will be allowed to fill the stadium for the first time, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but to a certain extent.
However, ahead of the first ODI, former Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Kiran More has urged the team management to rest marquee pacers Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Shami, alternately, during the white-ball leg of the tour, to manage their workload. Both players will feature across all three formats, which according to More can get a bit hectic.
"The only thing I am worried about is (Jasprit) Bumrah. He is going to play one-dayers, T20s, and Test matches. I think I will look at resting Bumrah, and also (Mohammed) Shami. Preserve more for Test series," More told TOI in an exclusive interview.
"We need to give an opportunity to the young pacers (Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar) so that they can get some experience before the next World Cup."
More also added he won't completely mind the idea of playing three spinners in the ODIs.
"In ODIs, it depends on what sort of batting line-up Australia plays. I won't mind going even with three spinners at some of the grounds...because we have Jadeja who can bat also and bowl those ten overs," he added.
On being asked about which Indian team jersey he would prefer, the 1992 World Cup or the revamped version which will be done by the team, also loaded with sponsors, during the ODI and T20I fixtures, More replied: "We need sponsors. Without that, any sport won't go forward," he replied.
Even as the India tour of Australia is set to get underway, the Australian spectators and even their own cricketers cannot shy away from continuing to address the tweaks that have been made to their domestic Twenty20 tournament.
The Big Bash League 2020 is set to undergo three changes according to Cricket Australia and not everyone back home in Australia is taking to the changes like to fish to water. It could be argued that the BBL, aiming to Australia’s successful version of the Indian Premier League, has gone the desperate way in a bid to turn around its viewership numbers.
And fans and cricketers think the rules only complicate and thereby, dilute the game.
The draw ability of the BBL still stems, not unlike Twenty20 tournaments around the world, on its ability to attract foreign cricketers who are household names. It has become a vehicle like others, for older cricketers, some retired, to join in the venture. However, the BBL has not quite had the success that the IPL has had, their numbers even dipping in the course of the past two seasons.
However, it seems the BBL’s attempt to recapture audiences is falling flat with their decision to bring in changes such as adding points to the team chasing for being over the run measure of the team batting first at the ten over the mark, allowing the 12th man (X factor) to substitute any player beyond the 10th over and making the number of powerplay over staggered as part of its power surge move has not won over fans, yet anyway.
It will not be until the game takes to the field until the rules are put to the popularity test based on whether these changes will have a sticky quality to them. However, there has been a lot of pushback already even from some of their own cricketers about how the BBL is missing the whole point about regaining lost spectators, particularly as the world recovers from a pandemic and cricket needs every impetus.
One of the reasons that has made the IPL as successful as it has been having not only to do with the fact that the rules have remained fairly unchanged since its inception but also, because of its ability to draw in a fair mix of international spectators as well with foreign cricketers thrown in with established Indian cricketers as well as young Indian rookies looking to make a name for themselves.
While the BBL had welcomed the initiative to add a third overseas player to the team and therefore, make the BBL more like the IPL, in terms of capturing international audiences, the consensus before the tournament itself seems to be that this is an unnecessary, inconvenient tweaking of the rules that might send the BBL further away from fans who might want to simply watch a quality match than being overburdened by the rules.
Has the BBL done the right thing, particularly as some Australian cricketers are pulling away citing bio bubble issues? Only time will tell.
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