Kohli will want to outscore Smith

Why IPL should have Aussie batsmen on high alert

In a normal year, trying to use white-ball form as a guide for what's to come in the Test summer would have you snatched up and sent to the loony bin.

But as we all know, 2020 has been anything but normal.

Australia has played just one ODI series since the end of the last home summer.

 

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India? They've not come together as a team since leaving New Zealand in March with a 2-0 Test series defeat.

And so, while the Sheffield Shield rolls on, to find the best formline for a large chunk of the major participants of the upcoming Test series you have to turn your attention to the empty stadiums in the UAE where the Indian Premier League has been taking place for the past two months.

We look at the biggest Australian and Indian names taking part this summer, and assess what their IPL form means for what fans can expect from some of the game's biggest stars in the next three months.

 

Pat Cummins: (Kolkata Knight Riders)

 

Australia's highest-paid IPL player, costing an eye-watering $3.2m for Kolkata, was always going to find it hard to provide bang for buck.

But in a hugely positive sign for Australian fans, Cummins grew into the tournament and finished with a bang - suggesting the world's No.1 Test bowler is warming to a big role against India.

He claimed 12 wickets from 14 games, but took nine in his final four games - including a man-of-the-match figures of 4-34 against the Rajasthan Royals.

And Cummins may enter the Test series with a slight mental edge over Ajinkya Rahane, who he trapped lbw for a golden duck with a beauty of a delivery that jagged back and had the opener dead to rights.

 

David Warner: (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

 

Warner is an IPL icon for obvious reasons - he's the third highest runscorer in the competition's history, and 2020 has proven no different.

The explosive opener smashed four half-centuries and his 529 runs finished second to only KL Rahul's 670 in the runscoring lists.

Warner went big when it counted, with his tournament-high 85 coming against the ladder-leading Mumbai Indians, against an attack that included Aussie duo Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson.

Earlier in the tournament, he hit 60 against a Mumbai attack boasting Indian superstar Jasprit Bumrah - and cracked him for back-to-back boundaries. He'd love to handle the awkward paceman as comfortably in the coming months.

His prolific runscoring is the perfect warm-up for a summer on home soil, where his Test record receives a 17-point bump to average 65.94 compared to his overall record of 48.94.

 

Steve Smith: (Rajasthan Royals)

 

The best red-ball batsman in the world, and undeniably the jewel in Australia's top six, Smith is far more human when it comes to his T20 performances. His return of 311 runs at an average of 25.91 for the last-placed Rajasthan Royals doesn't look terrific on paper, and it is lower than his career T20 average of 30.67.

But there's little to be concerned about. Smith did help steer the Royals to two wins with unbeaten knocks, including a 20-ball 31 against Kings XI Punjab.

Smith thrives on playing lots and lots of cricket, and no doubt once he returns to Australia - and escapes quarantine - he'll wear out an endless line-up of net bowlers until he feels comfortable again.

 

Josh Hazlewood: (Chennai Super Kings)

 

It's hard to get much of a read on Hazlewood, given he's bowled just 10 overs in total - having played in three defeats for the disappointing Chennai Super Kings, who finished second last. Hazlewood took just one wicket but in each game his economy rate shone - he'll love getting back to bowling with a red ball on Australian soil.

 

THE REST

 

Mitchell Marsh has been in and around Australian teams for years, but his IPL tournament was over after just one game - with the luckless all-rounder suffering an ankle injury after bowling just four deliveries for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Tim Paine's backup, Alex Carey, had three games behind the stumps for the Delhi Capitals - taking two catches while getting little opportunity with the bat.

White-ball stars Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, and Marcus Stoinis are all likely to feature in the ODI series which precedes the Tests, and had mixed tournaments.

Maxwell struggled with the bat, averaging just 15.42 with a top score of 32, while Stoinis was more of a powerhouse - averaging 28.5 and, with a strike rate of 150.23 and nine wickets to his name, could be a dangerous middle-order option for Australia.

Finch was also below his best, passing 50 just once in a below-par tournament by his heady standards.

 

THE OPPOSITION

 

India is bringing a scary line-up to Australia, and worryingly a number of them are arriving in blistering form.

Opener KL Rahul had a nightmare series in 2018-19, with four single-figure scores and an average of 11.4, but will arrive on the back of a tournament-high 670 runs, including an unbeaten 132 and five half-centuries.

Captain Virat Kohli remains the biggest threat in the Indian line-up and he's been typically destructive in the past two months.

Kohli has just three half-centuries - and a top score of 90 not out - but he's rarely failed, with just a handful of single figure scores, as his overall average of 46 suggests.

But by far the biggest concern, based on IPL form, is the continued elite performance of India's leading paceman Jasprit Bumrah.

 

Bumrah has a frightening 27 wickets from 14 matches at an average of just 13.92, proving himself to be one of the most complete fast bowlers on the planet.

The 26-year-old was a nightmare for Australia's batsman last tour down under, and coach Justin Langer will have sleepless nights coming up with plans to shut him down this summer.

Originally published as Why IPL should have Aussie batsmen on high alert


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