Pat Cummins celebrates with Jhye Richardson after hitting the winning runs in Vizag

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The Australian pacer endorses pitches that allow for a more even contest between bat and ball, or even those that result in low-scoring thrillers (5:36)

FacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerEmail6:24 AM ETVarun Shetty in BengaluruFacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprint

Pat Cummins has been christened "AB" in the Australian camp after winning the Allan Border Medal at Cricket Australia"s annual awards, but the flattering nicknames and his batting form haven"t affected his basic ambitions, he said on Tuesday.

Cummins has shown tremendous composure with the bat over the last few months, and particularly impressed in the Melbourne Test against India in December, where he followed a nine-wicket match haul with a dogged half-century as India looked to go ahead in the series. Throughout the series, Cummins drew praise for being one of Australia"s most comfortable batsmen against a menacing pace attack, aside from many suggestions that he could be the bowling allrounder, batting at No. 7, in a five-man attack.

On Sunday in Visakhapatnam, he batted at No. 8, behind Nathan Coulter-Nile, and hit the winning runs as Australia clinched a last-ball win in the first T20I against India.

"I have got lots to learn, like taking wickets in white-ball cricket and bowling in the death overs"

"I"m pretty happy down at No. 8 or 9. I feel like my role in the team as a batsman is just to try and survive, bat extra time, and hopefully I"ve got a batsman at the other end who"s set and can really cash in," he said before the second and final T20I. "Especially in Test matches, that was my role. I may not have all the big shots like a lot of the batsmen, (but) I"ve really enjoyed it.

"Preparing for the game... as a bowler, you can"t just prepare for bowling, you"ve got to prepare for everything. That"s probably something that"s hit home in the last couple of years. You have to make sure you"re all right in the field, do all your catching, fielding and for batting, just make sure you"re 100%. Because that first Test in Adelaide, out of nowhere we almost got home. That"s how close games can be these days. I really enjoy it but I"m really happy at the bottom of the order."

Cummins has achieved talismanic status for Australia over the last 18 months as he enjoys his first extended run in international cricket. Glenn Maxwell attested to that in the post-match comments after the first game, where he recounted having a chat with Aaron Finch as Australia"s innings took a nervous turn.

Pat Cummins celebrates with Jhye Richardson after hitting the winning runs in Vizag PTI

"I did mention to Finchy - if anyone could go out there, face their first ball in the last over and get us 14, it"s probably Pat Cummins. He can do anything," Maxwell had said. "He does it quite regularly. I think I remember him in UAE a few years ago. Think he came out and hit a first ball six. We only needed one to win and he hit it in the air."

It"s quite a reputation to have when, at 25, you"re unlikely to have been exposed to situations that need expert treatment. Cummins said the performances he pulls out in these "clutch" situations are primarily because there"s nothing to lose.

"You play professional sport, you want to be in the moment where you can win a game. T20 is a great format, it almost feels like every second game or third game you"re in a position to either win the game or the game"s on the line. Fortunately, so far a few have come off for me," he said.

"Off the field, you"re terribly nervous watching people go about their business, but once you"re out in the field, you know you"re in control, you"ve done it heaps of times before"

"Just try and swing the bat, bowl the ball. I think you hear a lot of the players saying this and I"m no different - off the field, you"re terribly nervous watching people go about their business, but once you"re out in the field, you know you"re in control, you"ve done it heaps of times before. That"s why you play. Normally, I"m more relaxed when I"m out there in the moment than I am off the field. Sometimes when the game feels like it"s almost lost, that"s when you can feel like you can relax and you"ve got nothing to lose."

While a last-gasp win can do wonders for the confidence, Australia got a dose of some familiar worries during the first game to. The last year was largely an abysmal one in limited-overs cricket for them, and the importance of getting back into white-ball rhythm isn"t lost on the team as they, like the others, look at the bigger picture in a World Cup year. Starting from 1-0 helps.

"Hasn"t happened for a while, especially overseas, especially in a place like India, which is so foreign to Australian conditions. [Winning] against one of the best sides in the world would be a huge result for us. We thought we had the game sewn up last time, and like all the really good sides, they just fought their way back," Cummins said.

Pat Cummins was on target in Vizag PTI

"We know tomorrow night, we have to play really well. They"re going to come back and play really well like they always do. Let"s see how we go, but to be one-up in an away series, we haven"t been in this position for a while, so it"s great."

Cummins himself has barely played any white-ball cricket lately. His last ODI was against South Africa in November 2018. From then till earlier this month, when he played one Big Bash match for Sydney Thunder, his competitive match-time came from six Tests. It didn"t go badly for him - he has pulled away from the pack as No. 1 Test bowler in the world.

"Really happy with how my game is going," Cummins said. "So many things have fallen into place. Obviously, there is a bit of luck as well. I am playing consistent cricket and I am able to concentrate well on my skills and have got a lot of confidence. I haven"t played too much white-ball cricket and I am looking forward for the challenge. I have got lots to learn, like taking wickets in white-ball cricket and bowling in the death overs. But yes, I couldn"t have been more happy on how I have been performing and I have been able to concentrate on my skills and bowl without having to worry about anything else."

He has 11 limited-overs international matches to tune those skills before the World Cup, albeit in conditions that will significantly vary from those in England. Australia play Pakistan in the UAE before they fly to the UK for some warm-up games before the action at the marquee event begins.

Conditions, however, aren"t on the list of things Cummins is worried about. Especially because the length of the World Cup might mean pitches mimicking those in the subcontinent by the end.

"Playing cricket anywhere is a good preparation. In some regards, the conditions are obviously going to be different here than in the World Cup. But there"s a lot of games at the World Cup, so at the back of our minds, we think by the end of the World Cup, the wickets might be a bit more tired and might spin a bit more like the Indian wickets," he said.

"As bowlers, if we can take wickets here in the middle overs against a good batting line-up, in wickets, which are probably that are not bowler-friendly, it will put us in good shape for the World Cup. It is really good practice and challenging yourself against some of the world"s best batsmen, seeing how they go about it, what works for us in these conditions, I think it will be really transferable for us in the World Cup."

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