Mohammed Shami is injured after Adelaide. Umesh Yadav absent after a calf injury in Melbourne. Hanuma Vihari, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja all failed the Brisbane test due to a hamstring, abdominal strain and dislocated thumb. There’s a big fitness cloud above Ravichandran Ashwin who is treating a back pain and also over Mayank Agarwal, who was punched in the arm during training in Sydney. Before the series, India had already lost the services of Ishant Sharma. It is a fluke that India is traveling with a large contingent, which has been made necessary due to the travel issues related to the coronaviruses. Memes are not without facts. If there is still an injury, the Indian cricket team may need to call on Ravi Shastri, Vikram Rathour or Bharat Arun to play bowling, stick or field.
Yet this Indian cricket team is much more determined and resilient than the former Indian teams and this is purely due to Ajinkya Rahane’s calm. The mantra followed by Ajinkya Rahane is that everything that happened in the previous game is over. The next game is a fresh start. It is his support that India has managed to withstand uneven ground and a desperate Australian team in Sydney. However, they are now heading to the Gabba in Brisbane. The construction and history have not been ideal for India. Prior to the start of the Brisbane Test, their hotel lacked basic facilities and the BCCI took up the issue with Cricket Australia. Even before that, comments from the shadow Minister of Health and Queensland Minister of Sport that “if India can’t play by the rules, they’re not welcome” were far from ideal.
At the other end is the intimidating story of the Gabba. For 32 years the nations have tried to beat Australia at this point and have failed spectacularly. In 2001, New Zealand almost won but was refused only for lack of time. Since then Australia has been supreme in this place. If one is to look at the contest on paper, with India missing so many stars, it should be easy for a relatively strong Australia to topple India. However, Tim Paine’s side are clearly shaken after India’s determination in Sydney. With so many off-field incidents marred the tour, Australia know that despite having a weak Indian squad, they are in fact the most vulnerable.
India and Australia playing 11
For Australia, Will Pucovski was excluded from the test after sustaining a shoulder injury and Marcus Harris was retained in the camp. The rest of the line-up remains the same. And the Indian team? With so many star players excluded, they field a virtual B or C team for Gabba’s test. Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan are in line for a start while Mohammed Siraj will open the new ball with Thakur. If Ravichandran Ashwin doesn’t get on form, India will have to come back to Kuldeep Yadav on the side. There is a school of thought that India should play both Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha, with Pant playing only as a drummer. When it comes to the stick, the top four have a tough job to do if they are to keep India afloat.
Australia playing 11: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (c & wk), Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
India playing probable 11: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha (sem.), Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin / Kuldeep Yadav, T Natarajan, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj
Match: India vs Australia, 4th test
Location: The Gabba, Brisbane
Time: 5:30 a.m. IST
Australia has not lost a test in Brisbane for 32 years. Their last defeat came against the West Indies in 1988.