Pat Cummins defends selections despite Australia’s embarrassing loss to India

Pat Cummins has defended the decision to drop Travis Head for the series opener against India after suffering an embarrassing defeat in three days at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur.

The left-handed batsmen were left out in favor of Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb, chosen for their perceived superior ability to play spin bowling.

That decision backfired, however, as Renshaw went battered in both innings and Handscomb struggled to really make an impact in the game, beating the visitors by one innings and 132 runs.

The result was one of the most embarrassing defeats in recent memory for the Aussies, as their second-innings collapse rang alarm bells for the remainder of the four-game series.


Speaking to the media after the conclusion of the first test, Cummins insisted Australia had picked their best team and doesn’t think much will change for the second game.

“We were confident that this was our best starting XI for the week,” he said.

“We know how good Trav is and he’s a big part of this team, but we had faith in the 11 guys that went out there. He was really good in the group.

“A lot was good bowling, two masters of their craft [Ashwin and Jadeja]fresh legs, they bowled really well.

“I don’t think there will be much change in the next few games. We’re going to play against that, so we have to find better methods.”

“You saw Smithy [Steve Smith] and Alex Carey put pressure on the bowlers again at times. I think it takes a bit of courage, it’s easier said than done.

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“If you’re just going ball by ball and the bowler’s pretty good, you’re going to get one with your name on it.

“Again, that will be the talk this week. If we get the same terms, the same bowlers, what will we do differently? I think probably being more proactive at times.”

Given his form over the past 18 months, Head’s omission came as a huge surprise, but his previous struggles on the subcontinent clearly played a role in the decision.

The 29-year-old has a chance to return for the second test in Delhi while two other names could be back on deck after recovering from injury.

Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green both missed the opener with finger injuries but are pushing for a return, while Josh Hazlewood is seen as an outsider to overcome an Achilles injury.

“Starcy lands in Delhi today or tomorrow,” Cummins said.

“I think Joshy might not be quite ready for Delhi. He’s getting up and running now, he’s pretty close but I don’t think he’ll be quite ready for Delhi.

“Greeny is a bit of a wait and see. I’m still hoping… he’s had some good hits out here. He’s bowling pretty well, we’ll judge that in the next few days.”

Australia’s second test against India begins on Friday 17 February.

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