Australia vs India | Not sure if Kohli’s absence is going to be a deciding factor, says Pat Cummins

The Australian fast bowler said the team is better equipped and wiser than the one that lost the Test series to India at home two years ago

Ever since it was announced last week that Virat Kohli would return to India midway through the tour to Australia on paternity leave, it has stolen the headlines across the cricketing globe.

In an attempt to downplay Kohli’s absence, Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins, in a select media interaction on Monday, said Kohli’s absence from the last three Tests “might make a bit of a difference” but won’t be a deciding factor in the series.

Considering India won a rare series Down Under last time around, are you looking at this series as a revenge series? And how much of a difference will the return of Steve Smith and David Warner make to the side?

We have got a lot to prove. India played really well here a couple of years ago. We as an Aussie cricket team, and as long as I have grown up watching them play, pride ourselves on winning at home, especially Test matches. So to lose that one, I feel like we have to make amends this summer. It’s gonna be a great series. Both teams I think are at the top of the Test Championship table at the moment. It’s going to be a high-quality series.

If I look back at that series, obviously Smith and Warner (are back) but obviously you’ve got Marnus (Labuschagne) who now is one of the best batters in the world. Travis Head’s had another 20 or 30 games and obviously the bowlers, two years further down the track. Hopefully we’re better equipped than we were a couple of years ago. But India are much the same. They have got the same line-up, same high-quality players, so it’s gonna be a great series.

How much will the fact that some of the Australian cricketers will enter the series on the back of some red-ball cricket whereas Indians have hardly played any all this year, will come into equation?

We’ll wait and see. Of the likely playing XI, only four or five have played some red-ball cricket and five or six of us have been playing the IPL. I don’t think it’s going to be a huge factor. Nowadays, playing professional cricket, you switch between formats constantly, so it’s not going to be something we haven’t experienced before. We’ll have some good prep over there in Adelaide when we get over there. I believe there are two India games against against our Australia A line-up, so hopefully most of the players can get some really good prep under their belt. So I think it’s pretty equal.

Australia has won all its pink-ball Tests so far. Will that put you in an advantageous position since the series will start with a day-night Test in Adelaide?

I’ll say most times you play at the home ground, at a familiar venue, is a bit of an advantage. No doubt playing a few more games than India have in this slightly new day-night format might help. It’s a great format. First time I played, I had a little bit of trepidation but no matter how you go, it’s an amazing spectacle. It’s a great event. Each game that we have played, just like any other Test match, the better side normally wins. We’ll wait and see. I think India have played one Test match before and have had a really good win. They’ve got a pink-ball warm-up game at the SCG under lights so they’ll have good preparation leading into this one.

Australia has the same pace attack as the last series. How different will it be than the last time around?

The first thing is we are all a couple of years older and wiser and more experienced hopefully, which helps. One of the biggest factors last time was we bowled a lot of overs back-to-back so by the end of the series, we were… the first two Tests were quite evenly poised and then Melbourne, obviously India batted really well but I think we spend a day-and-a-half, two days out there in the field, and then had a session off while batting and were straight back out in the field. We’re used to big workloads but hopefully here in Australia, the games and the series we’ve won between those big workloads, we’ve also batted the house down and batted for long periods of time. No doubt we’re gonna have a few big days in the field but hopefully we can break that up by some bit of rest, some big scores, put some pressure back on the Indian line-up. That’ll help as well.

How are you looking at India captain Virat Kohli missing the last three Tests?

To be honest, we haven’t spoken too much about it. I saw the announcement in the media. To be honest, as a captain, obviously he’ll be missed but the Indian cricket side always finds some incredible batsman, who outside the team, is just waiting for an opportunity, so maybe that new opportunity will be the beginning of someone else’s career. It might make a bit of a difference. I am not sure it’s gonna be a deciding factor in the series but to be honest us players haven’t spoken too much about it.

The series, which starts with the first of three ODIs on November 27, will be telecast live on Sony Six.

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