Australia missing 'world-class' Steve Smith and David Warner, admits Tim Paine

Aditya Devavrat 16:02 30/12/2018
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Australia captain Tim Paine acknowledged that his “inexperienced” and”inconsistent” side are missing the banned Steve Smith and David Warner.

Fast bowler Pat Cummins was the only Australian to cross 50 during the team’s 137-run defeat to India in Melbourne, with the regular batsmen disappointing again.

“I think it’s inexperience, it’s pressure, India’s bowling attack is probably as good as most of us have ever played,” he said.

“I think it’s pretty clear that if you take two or three of the best players out of anyone’s line-up around the world, you’re going to struggle a little bit at times and you are going to have inconsistent performances.

“The silver lining is that we do have world-class players that are available soon to come back into this side, and clearly when they do they will make a huge difference.”

Smith and Warner are serving one-year suspensions for ball-tampering, and will return in late March.

Batting coach Graeme Hick said Australia should learn from India skipper Virat Kohli and first-innings centurion Cheteshwar Pujara, with Kohli’s unusually restrained 82 and Pujara’s typically battling 106 providing the backbone for India’s first-innings total of 443/7 .

Australia could only manage 151 in reply, with a slight improvement taking them to 261 in their second innings but still fell to a huge 137-run defeat.

“We spoke about how Kohli went about it (his 82). We knew Pujara, and even Kohli, one of the most explosive batters, got to 20 off 25, 26 balls, then the rest of his innings took whatever it was,” he said.

“For the best player in the world to change his innings and play like that, if you can’t be on the same field as him and watch him and learn from what he is doing, then you are in the wrong space.

“There are certainly things our players can take out of that. It takes a lot of discipline, a lot of patience and, on top of that, you have got to bat with intent.”

Aaron Finch’s struggles as a Test opener continued, while all-rounder Mitchell Marsh managed just 19 runs across both innings. Speculation is rife that one or both will be dropped for this week’s Test in Sydney, though Paine was non-committal over any changes to the playing XI.

“I think they’ll be a lot of things on the table in the next day or two and of course I have some thoughts on what I think but I will share them with JL (coach Justin Langer) before I share them here,” he said.

“But I think we have the best group of players available to us at the moment and we’ll pick the best combination of that group that we think will win this last Test.”

All-rounder Marnus Labuschagne has been added to the squad as a potential replacement for Marsh.

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