Pat Cummins plays down pitch concerns, Green out of Nagpur opener

Home advantage is part of the challenge of test cricket, Australia’s captain said on Wednesday before his team’s series opener against India in Nagpur, after parts of the Australian media accused the hosts of selectively watering the pitch.

Pat Cummins, whose team just need to avoid a 4-0 whitewash to make the World Test Championship final in June, conceded that Australia’s left-handed batsmen might have to work extra hard to score runs during the match, which begins on Thursday.

The way the Nagpur pitch has been prepared has left the area outside left-handers’ off-stump dry at both ends. Cummins did not reveal his playing XI, but Australia could potentially pick five left-handed batsmen in their top seven, setting the scene for a potential a trial by spin.

“That’s part of the challenge of playing away,” Cummins told reporters.

“Home teams want to win at home. In Australia, we’re lucky we’ve normally got pace and bounce.

“Home match advantage, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing. It’s another challenge and makes touring over here even harder when you know the conditions are custom-made for them.”

Cummins said all-rounder Cameron Green, recovering from a finger injury, would miss the opener, joining pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc on the sidelines.

Australia may blood uncapped Todd Murphy alongside fellow off-spinner Nathan Lyon, and Peter Handscomb might pip Matthew Renshaw for the number six position to bring right-handed variety in their southpaw-heavy lineup.

“I think it is a factor over here,” Cummins said.

“With so much traffic from the right-handers’ bowling, at times there is a bit more out there for the left handers.”

Cummins also spelled out how his batters can overcome spin.

“You’ve got have those different options – the sweeps, the reverse sweeps, a really clean method.”

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