Australia skipper Aaron Finch expressed disappointment in not being able to compete against a quality player like Rohit Sharma, but opined that while India will miss his experience, they have able backups to fill the quality-shaped void. Finch further spoke of his rotten run of form in IPL 2020.
After months of hassle, India’s tour of Australia will kick off on Friday at the SCG but the hosts will be up against an Indian side that will be without the presence of a familiar foe, Rohit Sharma. A hamstring injury Rohit sustained in the IPL forced the BCCI to tread with caution, and thus the selectors opted to pull the 33-year-old out of the limited-over games, preserving him for the Tests.
Rohit’s absence, in many ways, comes as a major relief for the Aussies, against whom he averages 61.33, but home skipper Aaron Finch suggested otherwise. Speaking in the press conference ahead of the first ODI, Finch expressed disappointment over Rohit’s absence and claimed that it was a missed opportunity for the Aussie players to test themselves against a quality opponent. The Aussie skipper admitted that the Mumbaikar’s absence will leave an experience-sized hole in India, but claimed that the visitors have an able backup in the form of Mayank Agarwal to make up for the quality.
“He’s (Rohit) obviously a great player and someone who has had quite a bit of success against us in the past so it’s unfortunate (that he is injured),” Finch said in the pre-match press conference.
“Like I said, you want to play against the best all the time. For Rohit to pick up a hamstring niggle during the IPL wasn’t ideal for him, but whoever is going to replace him, possibly Mayank Agarwal, he has been in great form as well. You take away a lot of experience there but you are also bringing in another quality player.”
Regardless of who fills in for Rohit, Finch will have other things to worry about, not least his own form. The Australian skipper is coming on the back of an excruciatingly underwhelming IPL campaign where he averaged just 22 in 12 matches and struck at a SR of 111.20. Reflecting on his IPL 2020 woes, the 34-year-old claimed that in search of power and quick runs, he sacrificed his technique, due to which he ultimately failed. The RCB batsman, however, revealed that now, heading into the ODIs, he has made minor technical tweaks which, he claims, has helped him in the past to shrug off bad form.
“I think a combination of a couple of things. T20 cricket can be really difficult when you’re not quite at your very best, when you’re trying to be aggressive at the start of an innings and taking risks in the game. I think that’s a time when if it’s not going 100%, you can get yourself in a pretty bad run pretty quickly.
“It’s just a few balance things - head position, my stance, and small things like that one can forget about when focusing just on T20. You get a little bit one paced with your training and almost focus on power hitting rather than a few minor technical things that can help you out. It hasn’t been anything huge, it’s just a few steps I generally go to when things haven’t been as smooth as what I would have liked,” Finch said.
A major talking point surrounding the series has been the workload both sides will inflict on the fast bowlers, given most players are primed to partake in the Tests, which will succeed the limited-overs. As a result, there have been speculations that both India and Australia might look to rest and rotate their seamers. Finch admitted that there will invariably be rotation, but stated that it will be influenced by a player’s mindset, rather than performance. The Aussie skipper revealed that the physical and mental well being of each individual will be assessed as the series progresses, and emphasized the importance of ‘breaks’ during these unprecedented times.
“Since the last World Cup, we’ve been pretty clear as to how we want to structure our team. Generally we have a couple of all-rounders in there to take the load of the fifth bowler. Obviously that will change depending on conditions. That’s almost a floating plan that we have, so in terms of the rotation of bowlers, it’s going to come down to how they are feeling personally - mentally or physically.
“Guys are in totally different points in their preparations and workloads, so it will just be about managing that. I don’t think it will come down to results, so I think it will be down to each individual case and managing as it goes along.
“Because we know in the current environment, with guys away from their families for a long time in hubs and bubbles and quarantine and all that, it’s really important to look after people’s mental health, as much as anything. So whether you give a person a week off, or a couple of days off just to get home, is going to be crucial. Like I said, it will be an individual, case-by-case thing.”