Not once in the last couple of months has the air of uncertainty grown thinner around India’s tour of Australia. To the respite of everyone, the fourth Test has stayed intact and will be played as per the schedule, after a handful of ruckus that enveloped the fixture not too long ago. All good things come to an end, and so will the current edition of the coveted Border-Gavaskar trophy with the Test at Gabba.
When the red-ball series had commenced, many belonged to Michael Vaughan’s school of thought: Australia will roll over India to win 4-0. And India’s dreadful Adelaide debacle and the subsequent exit of the now-new dad Virat Kohli only bolstered the hypothesis. Cut! The last fixture at Brisbane and the series stands intriguingly poised at 1-1.
Momentum might be overrated in cricket, however, it is almost an alien concept to Test cricket. Teams do not win another Test series or a match for they won the previous one. They win by what they display. And whether it be the historic Melbourne triumph under the aegis of Ajinkya Rahane or the indescribable Sydney fightback, India can take pride in the way they have taken the challenge head-on. However, at Gabba – where Australia last lost a Test in 1988 – the challenge will take another upward swing as some more Indians have taken admission into the injury college.
For no fault of their own, both the teams have been disarrayed by the unavailability of many of their first-choice players. The list has grown further as India will be sans Jasprit Bumrah (abdominal strain), Ravindra Jadeja (dislocated thumb), and Hanuma Vihari (torn hamstring) from their ranks, whereas the tryst of injuries for Will Pucovski continues as well, as he is set to miss the last Test owing to his bad shoulder.
India is further fretting over the fitness status of Ravi Ashwin – he had an incredibly sore back, and only he knows how he salvaged the talismanic act in Sydney – and Rishabh Pant, who took the beating on his elbow. Injuries to Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav has already depleted India’s pace attack to an unimaginable extent, and Bumrah’s exit leaves no other option for Mohammed Siraj – playing only his third Test – to spearhead the pace attack, alongside a two-Test old Navdeep Saini, and a probable debutant in T Natarajan or even 1 Test old Shardul Thakur.
There is a series to be won in Brisbane and while India’s historic win Down Under in 2018-19 has always had an asterisk signifying the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith, retaining the trophy with fourfold first-choice players’ absence will be an achievement for the ages. Also, a top spot in the ICC Test rankings, which India would reach should they manage a victory, is not a bad incentive. Is it?
Pitch and conditions
The strip at the Gabba is known to be the fastest the country has. That said, the track will have ample offerings for the spinners as the match progresses and the pitch breaks. The bounce is trustable, and it remains true throughout, which is a thing less to worry about as a batsman. The first two days are ideal for batting at this venue, and one would not want to bat at Gabba on Days four and five (provided the game goes that far). Hence, the toss will be significant.
Playing combinations for AUS vs IND
India is struggling to find an eleven, let alone a balanced one. A cheeky Ashwin after the Sydney Test said that “Ajinkya Rahane will call the players and the 11 who appear will go in”. Given the dire state of affairs, it would not be a surprise if that indeed happens to be the method of selection. Injuries to Bumrah and Jadeja have denied India a premium pacer and key all-rounder.
Kuldeep Yadav may get a look-in, if Ashwin misses out, whereas either one in a slightly unfit Mayank Agarwal or Prithvi Shaw should be in, in case Pant fails to make it. Meddling the Sharma-Gill opening combinations is unlikely, which means that Pant’s replacement will have to fill the number 6 spot.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha/ Mayank Agarwal/Prithvi Shaw, Ravichandran Ashwin/Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan
Will Pucovski’s exit has opened the doors for Marcus Harris, who was included ever since the inception of the series but is yet to feature. He will certainly open tomorrow alongside David Warner, who did not have a memorable return after injury. Playing his 100th Test, Nathan Lyon will be the lone spinner alongside a three-pronged pace attack containing Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood.
Playing XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (C & WK), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
AUS vs IND Head to head
Played – 101 | India – 29 | Australia – 43 | Draw – 28 | Tied – 1
AUS vs IND Broadcast Details
Match Timings- 5:30 AM (IST)
TV – Sony Sports Network
Live Streaming – Sony LIV
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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