Australia skipper Pat Cummins admitted that variety in attack will undoubtedly help Australia heading into the second Test in Delhi but revealed that, as things stand, the tourists cannot rule out the possibility of fielding an unchanged bowling unit as they still sweat on the availability of Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc.
Green and Starc, both of whom missed the first Test due to finger injuries they picked up in the South Africa series, will both add a different dimension to the visitors’ attack.
While Green will provide the Aussies with a fifth bowling option — something they dearly missed in Nagpur — Starc’s left-arm angle will be a threat on its own. Not to mention, the mere presence of Starc will create a rough that’ll aid the two off-spinners in the side, Lyon and Murphy.
In Nagpur, Australia also missed a spinner that turns the ball away from the right-hander but the inclusion of Green could potentially enable them to field three spinners, with the 23-year-old serving as the second seamer in the XI.
Addressing the media a day ahead of the second Test, Cummins revealed that the Kangaroos will take a call on the final XI only on the morning of the game.
“We will have a discussion over how we can fit in (Mitchell) Starc in terms of bowling combination- going with spinners, Boland etc. Ideally if batters chip in, or if we have someone like (Cameron) Green, it is ok to go with four specialist bowlers," Cummins said a day ahead of the second Test.
“I thought last week with two pacers that attack functioned quite well, but I think whether it’s ‘Starcy’, another spinner, Scotty [Boland], variety in the attack does help.
“Starcy and Green had good sessions yesterday and we will assess them later on today. We don’t have a line through them yet.”
Should Australia indeed opt to play three spinners, Delhi will likely witness the debut of Queensland left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann, who was parachuted into the squad a few days ago in place of the departing Mitch Swepson. Post the call-up, head coach Andrew McDonald revealed that the left-arm spinner had a ‘live chance’ of debuting at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
Cummins, though, did not reveal who was ahead in the pecking order and claimed that he’d be comfortable playing either spinner in the XI.
“They both had long sessions the last couple of days and looked awesome. If we wanted a third spinner variety we’d be comfortable with either of those two,” Cummins said of the third-spinner battle.
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That Australia are very much open to the idea of playing three spinners is down to the fact that Cummins & Co. expect the Delhi wicket to turn.
"Not sure about the pitch, it is a different soil altogether, but not dissimilar in nature of the pitch. We expect it to spin,” Cummins said.
Australia are unsure about the bowling combination but what about the structure of the batting? Will Delhi witness the return of Travis Head, who was rather controversially axed? Or could the Aussies drop a huge bombshell by dropping David Warner, who averages 22.16 in India and posted scores of 1 & 10 in Nagur?
Cummins stated that Head is ‘absolutely’ part of the conversations but did not confirm if the 29-year-old will feature. The Australian skipper also fully backed the struggling Warner, who he said has been 'batting really well'.
“Travis (Head) has been awesome, he is been working hard on his game. He is absolutely part of the conversation for this Test as he was in the 1st."
Speaking of Warner, said Cummins: "I'm not a selector. I don't think they've had a meeting but I'm sure Davey will be there.
"You saw this year at the Boxing Day Test when he puts pressure back on the opposition he's pretty hard to bowl to. You don't get as many good balls, so he knows that. I'm sure that'd be part of his plan.
"He has been batting really well here. Even in the lead-up I thought he was fantastic.
"I know there's a lot of talk about spin bowling through the middle, but with that new ball it's sometimes the hardest time to bat as well," the skipper added.