Travis hoping for a head start to the ODI series

While he believes that Australia has got quite a few finishers, Head admits that fielding will be the key in the series against India.

Australian player Travis Head addresses the media in Chennai on Thursday.   -  PTI

Travis Head had hit the ball quite hard, but it did not clear the distance. The Australian big-hitter looked dejected as he walked back to the dressing room. He constantly looked at the bat, shook his head and sat rather quietly in one corner of the arena.

It was one of the practice matches that his Indian Premier League (IPL) side, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), was playing at the National Cricket Academy grounds in Bengaluru earlier in May.

Next afternoon, as RCB took on Kolkata Knight Riders, Head was brought into the side. The Aussie justified the trust with a 47-ball 75 to guide his struggling side to a formidable total, which in the end, turned out to be for another losing cause.

But that innings did change things for the young Aussie.

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Ahead of Australia’s ODI series against India, which begins in Chennai on Sunday, Head credits the cash-rich league for boosting his career. “I think it comes with some experience. Personally, I have played a couple of IPL [seasons]. It is not too dissimilar to how I play normally,” Head said on Thursday, explaining how he has been able to adapt to the shorter formats of the game.

“I think it is the conditions and it spins a little bit more. I think it is just adapting. I stay pretty relaxed and play to the conditions and do what is needed at certain time of the game,” he said, quickly adding: “I try to stay pretty open minded.”

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Perhaps, that is the one thing he has picked up from Virat Kohli. Head, who played for the RCB under Kohli’s leadership, believes that the India captain’s work ethic is something to look up to. “He has got a very good work ethic. I think he is very good on match day. He just plays the conditions very well and adapts very quickly,” the 23-year-old, who has played 25 ODIs for Australia, said.

His world, too, changed post IPL. What looked like a rather bumpy career got steadier this year, with him gradually cementing a place in the Australian limited-overs side. Head agrees. “Yeah, it has been a nice (year). I haven’t thought about it too much. It has gone by pretty quickly. It has gone really well. As soon as I have stepped back in, I have got runs. I feel very welcome in this side. They let you express yourself as much as possible. That’s what I feel most comfortable,” he said.

As he spoke to the scribes, the excitement was hard to miss. After all, it was only earlier this week that he was slotted in as No. 4 in the batting order by the side’s stand-in coach Davis Saker. “Yeah, (I am) excited by it. Hopefully, (I get the) the chance to go up the order again. Since I have come to the side, I feel confident. It was nice to get some time in the middle the other day,” Head said, drawing reference to his knock of 65 against the Board President’s XI on Tuesday.

While he believes that Australia has got quite a few finishers, Head admits that fielding will be the key in the series. Even though the Aussies fielded poorly during the warm-up tie against Board President’s XI, Head was not willing to read much into it. “Fielding could win or lose you a game, I guess. I guess the Australians pride themselves on their fielding and we have worked hard on that skill. We make sure we go in and do that in pressure situations. We have some extremely good fielders, yes. We have seen guys who can win games with their fielding,” he said.

He made it clear that with players like Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade in the ranks, the visiting can finish things off in style. “We have got David and Steve who are in great touch and Wadeny [Wade]. Stoinis batted really well and James Faulkner has done that before. We don’t rely on one person. Someone gets in that winning position,” he said, eventually drawing reference to the tournament that changed his career — the IPL. “Most of the guys have played IPL. Most of the batters came in and got a hit out there and the bowlers did the same thing in the practice game.”

Head is looking forward to pairing up with Glenn Maxwell in the middle-order. “Once it is set up by the opening batters, hopefully me and Glenn (Maxwell) can do at the back end of the innings. We complement each other in the sides,” he said.

For a youngster who wants to take the big leap at the world stage, the IPL has been a learning curve. And now, Travis is hoping for Australia to get a head start in the ODI series with a win in Chennai!