Australia short on experience vs Bumrah, Shami as Kohli protects them

Of all the nine batsmen in Australia’s Test squad, only a couple — Travis Head and Time Paine — have played an India attack comprising both Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami at the Test level.

With India captain Virat Kohli hinting on Tuesday that he may not play all of the all-format regulars like himself, Bumrah and Shami, in the second warm-up due to workload management, both Cameron Green and opener Joe Burns who are also part of the Australia ‘A’ side, could be denied some important practice against India’s frontline pace bowlers ahead of the four-match Test series.

Green, on Wednesday, touched upon the challenge of facing a bowler like Bumrah due to his unique action but also added that he will get used to his bowling after facing him a few times.

“I will be facing them (India attack) in a couple of days’ time with the pink ball (in the second warm-up at the Sydney Cricket Ground). So that will be another new challenge for myself and a few other guys. I have never faced them before. He (Bumrah) is obviously a world class bowler, got a unique bowling action. So you take some time to get used to him, his skills are world class so you have to take your game to another level really and work really hard against him. It will get easier the more you face him…so that is the attitude that I will be taking in this game,” said Green while speaking to the media on Wednesday.

The challenge for Australia is that even their best and most experienced batsman Steve Smith has not played Bumrah or in fact both him and Shami together. Smith is returning to the Border-Gavaskar series after missing the last one in 2018-19 as he was suspended for ball-tampering.

So a lot will depend on how Head and Paine guide the other players in helping them prepare against a pace bowling attack that starred in the last series, helping India bowl out Australia seven times in the four Tests in 2018-19 by taking two-third of the wickets. That pace trio though also included Ishant Sharma who has been ruled out of the Test series.

Will Pucovski, the young opener, who is slated to debut at the Adelaide Oval in the first Test, a pink-ball one, has already been ruled out of the second warm-up, a pink-ball fixture due to concussion-related problems and he too will be denied practice.

Kohli had on Tuesday said that it is important to manage the bodies of Bumrah and Shami.

“Those who play all three formats like me, for them the workload management is very important because you have played six matches (in just 12 days). And for bowlers, like Shami and Jasprit, it is important for them to manage their body. Before going into the first match, our feeling is that we need to have our game at a certain level. More important than that is that you should be physically fresh. At full fitness. In a five-day game, you can’t afford stiffness or niggle. So we have to take that as priority,” Kohli said.

The India skipper also pointed out that he doesn’t want bowlers to turn up in the first Test feeling sore and with too many miles under belt.

“It is very important to understand that you need guys fresh for the first Test and you need to take some calls along playing so many games. We have played six games in no time. It is something we all need to address and be wary off. We don’t want guys starting the Test match feeling sore or legs have too many miles in them,” Kohli said.