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As beautiful as Cape Town but we need to be careful while fielding: Cummins on Dharamsala outfield

Dharamsala: Pat Cummins rates HPCA Stadium here on par with Newlands in Cape Town in terms of scenic beauty but the Australian skipper wants his players to be cautious while fielding after doing a recce of the outfield ahead of his team’s crucial World Cup game against the New Zealand.

The HPCA outfield, which was affected by fungus before the start of the tournament, has not been of international standard and Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott and England skipper Jos Buttler have both been critical of the surface which lead to serious injuries. Even the Indian team didn’t dive on the field.

‘Yeah, I mean just walked across there now, so that was the first look at it. Yeah, that’s probably a ground we’ve got to be extra careful. It’s a bit different to a lot of the other venues that we play at. But it’s fine. It’s the same for both teams. So yeah, maybe just be a little bit more careful out in the field. And you might have to wear a cup on the body, but that’s fine,’ Cummins said during pre-match media interaction.

However his players were enamoured by the beauty of the ground which is surrounded by the snow-capped Dhauladhar range.

‘It’s right up there. You think of Cape Town, this one’s probably just beautiful. As you saw, as soon as we got off the bus, everyone goes right out the front, gets their phone out, starts taking photos. You just got to do it when you’re here. So, it’s beautiful, clean air. Looking up at snow-capped mountains, it’s great,’ the skipper said.

While Australia scored heavily against Pakistan at Chinnaswamy in Bengaluru and the Netherlands in Delhi, they might have to reassess the target if they bat first here.

‘It’s a new venue. You’ve got to assess when you’re out there what you think is going to be a good score. So yeah, it might not be a 400-run game or innings. But yeah, we talk a lot about playing what’s in front of you.

‘Assess the conditions and as a batter, you build your innings around that as a bowler, we assess what’s going to work whether it’s cutters, swing. Yeah, new venue we’ll just make sure we’re looking at it closely.’ On his bowling, the skipper seemed satisfied and felt he has been at his best.

‘I’ve been really happy with how I’ve been bowling. I feel like I’ve probably been bowling the best I have for a little while in the ODI cricket. So, and in terms of economy rates we’re really role specific so a Josh Hazelwood is going to look different to me or to Starkey (Starc) to Adam Zampa.

‘It’s just about, having your role and trying to own that. So, for example, we could try and be really safe through the middle, but we’re not going to take wickets where they’re probably going to score runs at the back end. So, we’re always all about wickets at the start and the middle, and happy to give up a few runs in search of that,’ Cummins added.

He lauded his pace bowling partner Mitchell Starc for being his ‘go to’ bowler during all phases of an ODI.

‘I think in 50-over cricket, there’s the new ball, the middle phase and the last phase and it’s pretty hard to nail all three. But I think Starc is one of the rare bowlers that swings it up front, but you can basically give him the ball at any time and you feel like he’s going to create something,’ the skipper said.

Starc’s wobbly seam deliveries do create confusion in the minds of the batters.

‘I think he just keeps getting better and better. He’s wobbling the ball across right-handers, he’s bowling round the wicket probably more than he did in, say 2015, he’s got plenty of tools at his disposal and it’s pretty amazing he’s been able to keep up the pace for that long as well,’ he added.

(Published 28 October 2023, 01:45 IST)

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