Australia players celebrate a wicket in India.
Australia's experience on Indian wickets means they will not be intimidated at the World Cup. Image by AP PHOTO
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India loses mystery as Australia launch World Cup pitch

Scott Bailey October 5, 2023

Pat Cummins has played more white-ball cricket in India than he has in Australia over the past five years.

That includes more one-day internationals on the subcontinent than at home, and more Twenty20 matches in the country given his wealth of experience in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

So too has David Warner, while the majority of Australia’s players are seasoned IPL campaigners.

India, often regarded as producing the toughest conditions for overseas teams, is no longer so foreign for Australia.

“It’s conditions we know well,” captain Cummins told AAP.

“It’s still quite different to Australia. There’s not as much pace and bounce, but there’s no huge surprises once you get over there.

“We’re probably not the only team like that.

“Every team has a lot of IPL players and know the Indian wickets.”

It’s an advantage Australia will happily carry into this month’s World Cup, starting against India on Sunday night as they hunt a sixth crown.

Australia’s worst result in a World Cup in the past 30 years came in India back in 2011, when they failed to make the semi-finals.

The side Cummins will lead in this year’s tournament is a far different proposition.

While Australia arrive in India with an ageing group of players – more than half the squad are likely playing in their last ODI World Cup – 12 years ago they were a team in transition.

Steve Smith is the only player remaining from the 2011 tournament, when the nation’s run of World Cup dominance ended in the quarter-finals against India.

And while Australia’s form has been middling leading into the tournament amid injury woes, they have won seven of 14 matches in India in the past five years.

“I wouldn’t say intimidating is the right word, it was just foreign conditions back then,” Smith said of the traditional view of playing in India.

“People are a bit more accustomed to it now, just from having played a lot there.

“You get adjusted, but it can still be challenging.

“It will still be a difficult place to beat India. They are going to be the favourites … they are a very good side and playing in India.”

England remain the other team to beat after winning the 2019 tournament on home soil.

All 10 sides play each other once in the league stage, with the top four advancing to the semi-finals.

Australia face some selection headaches early, with Travis Head’s broken hand leaving Mitch Marsh to open the batting with Warner for the first half of the tournament.

Marcus Stoinis looms as the man most likely to be squeezed out in the middle, allowing Australia to pick their “big three” all-format quicks.

The other issue could be spin as pitches wear later in the tournament, with Adam Zampa Australia’s only front-line tweaker after Ashton Agar’s calf injury.

Glenn Maxwell will likely be called upon as a second spinner, while Head could also make up overs on his return.

“It will be interesting to see as the tournament goes on how much wear there is on the wicket, and whether they start slowing up and spinning a bit more,” Smith said.

“Some wickets there are just beautiful to bat on, but other times it can be quite challenging.

“You have to think your way through situations. I am interested to see how it pans out.”