It was not known if Pat Cummins was searching ‘How to silence a big, partisan crowd’ as the Australia captain entered the press conference room fiddling with his phone but he conceded that was pretty much the plan for the World Cup final against India.
As if India’s formidable batting lineup and fiery bowling attack were not handful enough, Australia will also have to deal with boisterous Indian fans, who will be egging on Rohit Sharma and his team on Sunday.
Not a single seat in the 130,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium is likely to stay unoccupied when five-time champions Australia clash with an India side who are unbeaten in the tournament.
But Australia are a team full of big-match performers who also know what it’s like to play in cricket-crazy India from their time in the Indian Premier League.
Cummins said the best way to overcome a challenge like that was to embrace it.
“The crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided but in sport, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us tomorrow,” he told reporters on Saturday.
“You’ve just got to embrace every part of a final ... you know in the lead-up there’s going to be noise and more people and interest and you just can’t get overwhelmed.
“You got to be up for it, you got to love it and just know whatever happens it’s fine but you just want to finish the day with no regrets.”
And while he accepted the dimensions of Sunday’s match would be different to any his side had experienced before, Cummins said: “We play over here in India a lot so the noise is not something new.
“I think on this scale it’s probably bigger than we would have experienced before but it’s not something totally foreign to what we’ve had before.
“Everyone deals with it slightly differently — you see Davey [Warner] probably dancing and winning the crowd over, other guys just staying in their own bubble — it should be good.”
Beaten comprehensively by India in their opener, Australia strung together eight wins in a row to make the final against India, who have a perfect 10-0 record in the tournament.
“We know it’s going to be a packed house. There’s going to be 130,000 fans here supporting India. So it’s going to be awesome,” Cummins said. “They’ve been playing really well, undefeated this tournament. But we know at our best we can give them a good shake.”
Much of it will depend on how their new ball pair of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood fare against India’s top order. Starc bowled seven overs on the trot in their semi-final victory against South Africa sharing five wickets with Hazlewood.
“The opening partnership between him and Josh Hazlewood is going to be a big one for us,” said Cummins, who is banking on their experience in global events organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“We saw what impact they can have in a game when they bowl like they did the other night. So, they’re both big-game players, played in a few ICC finals now, so know what it takes.”
Cummins also highlighted the impact of rival paceman Mohammed Shami had made upon a “well-rounded” India side.
Shami was left out of the team at the start of the World Cup but is now the tournament’s leading bowler, with 23 wickets from just six games at a stunningly low average of under 10 apiece.
“He’s a class bowler to right and left-armers,” said Cummins. “But all our batters can draw on moments where they’ve taken on these [India] bowlers and done well.”
Cummins felt Australia were yet to play a “complete game” in the tournament and hoped they have preserved it for the summit clash.
“There have been no huge wins. We’ve had to fight for every win, but we’ve found a way to win,” Cummins said. “I’m taking that confidence, knowing that we don’t have to be at our absolute best to challenge any team, we can find a way through it.”
Victory on Sunday would cap a remarkable 2023 for Australia that saw them narrowly lose a Test series in India before defeating India in a World Test Championship final in England, where they also went on to retain the Ashes after a drawn campaign.
“It’s been a huge year,” said Cummins, also the skipper of Australia’s Test team. “These are four marquee events. Some of the guys probably spent less than a couple of weeks in their own bed since the end of the Aussie summer.
“The guys have been awesome. They’re so up for every game they play. To put ourselves in this position, it [winning the World Cup] would just top off an incredible year.”