India, Australia captains bank on crowds
Virat Kohli has had a few run-ins with the Australian crowd, particularly at the Sydney Cricket Ground, which hosts the first India-Australia ODI on Friday.
But the opportunity to play before the crowds will be a “big boost” for the captain when Team India feature in an international match for the first time amid the pandemic.
“It’s a great opportunity. Everyone is really excited to play in front of crowds. The atmosphere of playing before crowds has been missing.
“Things are getting better and it (return of crowds) is a big boost for all of us, and it’s certainly something I have enjoyed a lot over the years. Playing in front of crowds is something that cannot be replicated otherwise,” Kohli said in a virtual media conference.
The Australians too are, of course, excited and thrilled with the aspect of fans returning to the stadiums.
“Yes, absolutely. I think the last time we played in front of the crowds in Australia was a long time ago, so the boys are excited and there has been a huge round of work that has gone on to allow that to happen.
“The amount of effort that people of every state have put in to help the coronavirus get under control is indeed brilliant. We know how much of a great atmosphere it is going to bring about,” skipper Aaron Finch said.
The Indian contingent on Thursday checked into a new hotel in Sydney, entering a bio-secure bubble after completing a 14-day “soft quarantine” on the outskirts of the city.
India are looking to provide the youngsters, particularly someone like Shubman Gill, their fair share of chances in the white-ball matches.
“There are a lot of young guys in the squad. It’s a great opportunity for them to realise something new about their game. So we’re definitely looking forward to seeing how they shape up and react to situations,” Kohli said.
The bowling workload of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami too will be monitored in the ODIs and T20Is, keeping in mind the bigger role the pace duo have to play in the four-Test series. “It’s a no-brainer. They have gone through a full IPL, so it will be important to monitor their workload,” Kohli said.
“There is a fine balance that you need to maintain, something we have managed to do for the last few years. That is why our bowlers have been fit and available for the important matches most of the times for us.”
T. Natarajan has been added to the ODI squad as back-up after Navdeep Saini complained of back spasm.
Though Australia don’t have to deal with Rohit Sharma in the coming white-ball matches, their bowlers have the arduous task of tackling Kohli, who too has an excellent record against them. Acknowledging the fact, Finch even went to the extent of terming Kohli as “probably one of the best” ODI batsmen ever, which certainly seems quite generous, especially on the part of an Australian captain.
“He (Kohli) doesn’t have too many (weaknesses). So, we have to keep looking to get him out, because when you go away from that and look to contain players, you can sort of miss a trick there,” Finch pointed out.
Match starts: 9.10am IST (Live on Sony Ten 1 and 3)