Australia to test Rahane resolve
Justin Langer does empathise with India post the visitors’ Adelaide disaster, but the Australia head coach is not concerned about what his counterpart, Ravi Shastri, could be going through ahead of the second Test that starts on Saturday.
“To be honest, it’s none of my business. I have had enough with stresses.
“I empathise with the opposition and I know what it feels like. But if India are feeling any stress, I am glad they are and not us over this Christmas weekend,” a candid Langer said during Thursday’s virtual conference facilitated by Sony Pictures Sports Network.
The absence of Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami will make the task doubly difficult for India going into the Boxing Day Test, Langer acknowledged, while also speaking of the need to build pressure on stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane.
“Of course, whatever sport you play, if you take out two of your stars, it gets tough. Whenever you take out best players of any team, it weakens them and that’s the reality. Kohli is an all-time great player and Shami adds real value to the team, because he is so miserly and skilful. Their absence surely gives us some advantage.
“We need to start strongly on the first day and build pressure on Rahane as he will be the India captain for the remaining Tests. So the processes don’t change,” he said.
Hinting that Australia would field an unchanged XI at the MCG, Langer remained hopeful of David Warner’s return for the penultimate Test. “Davey had a good hit yesterday (Wednesday), but he’s still a bit way off with his running.
“There’s no one more dynamic in the game than he is with his running between the wickets and with the way he fields. He wants to make sure he is 100 per cent fit for that as he gets great energy out of it and so does the group.
“So when he gets that back and feels confident with it, he will, of course, come back into our team,” Langer said.
Post-Adelaide, all the talk has been about Australia’s deadly pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood — a fast bowling group that Langer termed “outstanding.” However, Tim Paine has played an equally significant role for the Aussies and Langer acknowledges that.
“You think about (Adam) Gilchrist, who transformed the game in a sense. And that is why Gilchrist is an all-time great player. But I’ve got enormous faith in Tim.
“Whether it’s his wicketkeeping, his captaincy or his batting, I have said publicly and privately for almost throughout the last year that he is our most important player because he is a lead wicketkeeper, and his leadership on and off the field is incredible,” Langer emphasised.
The head coach also pointed to the quality of Australia’s reserve pacers — James Pattinson, Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson.
“I’m glad that I have got these quicks in my side and not in any other team. They are all great mates and so love working together as a unit. All of them know they’ve got to stay on their toes.
“In the past, Australia had a well-rounded attack comprising Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne. Now we have Starc bowling as fast as we have ever seen him bowl, Cummins a superstar and Hazlewood, who’s like a brand new medallist. They are so, so hard to get away.”
Match starts tomorrow: 5am (IST), live on Sony Six, Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3