Australia vs India 4th Test Preview: Walking wounded, will India's grit be enough for Gabba challenge
Australia have not lost a test match in Brisbane since 1988 and start favourites despite botching up their chances of victory in Sydney.
LIVE - Australia vs India 4th Test
India lose more players to injury
Grit and determination are great allies but they do need the companionship of talent. With Jasprit Bumrah unofficially ruled out of the final test match and injury clouds over Mayank Agarwal and Ravichandran Ashwin as well, India may have all the resolve in the world but they might end up short on resources.
With the visitors already having a long list of players nursing injuries, the rigours that the Sydney test brought with it snatched away Hanuma Vihari and Ravi Jadeja from the Indian ranks as well.
Ashwin and Agarwal not 100% but likely to pull through
R Ashwin, who played a brilliant knock to save the match on the final day at Sydney, was also battling back pains all the while and was not even able to sit. A call on whether or not he will be able to pull through for the Gabba test has still not been taken.
While Team India does realise what Ashwin brings to the table with the ball and now with the bat, after his inspired resistance in Sydney, they are also aware of his history of breaking down in the middle of test matches and hence, they would be wary of naming him in the India playing XI if he's not more than 70% fit at the least.
Mayank Agrawal also suffered a blow in the same nets in Melbourne where KL Rahul was injured and his scan reports are awaited. As it is, the opener will have to bat out of position at number 6. That said, the committed individual that Mayank Agarwal is, he would do everything to be fit in time.
Just in case he fails to make it to the playing XI, India will have no option but to include Prithvi Shaw at number 6. That in fact won't be that bad a move as the explosive Shaw will get some breathing room from the opening spot where he has been asked too many tough questions. Shaw can also tackle the second new ball at number six, if need be.
Saha or Pant? Sundar or Kuldeep? Thakur or Natarajan?
There are many backers for Wriddhiman Saha playing as the specialist wicket-keeper while Rishabh Pant being included as a pure batsman at number 5, after his heroics in Sydney, where he fell just three runs short of a century. However, given that India are struggling to find the right balance, they will do everything to ensure that Pant dons the gloves.
Coming to the Indian bowling attack, Jasprit Bumrah sustained an abdominal strain in Sydney. Although he has not been officially ruled out of the test match, it is tough to see how he can make it to the playing XI with such a short turnaround.
Shardul Thakur will take the place of Bumrah. Thakur may not have Bumrah's ability of bowling at over 140 kmph, but is a very canny swing bowler who can get the out-swingers going at a decent clip of around 135 kph if there is anything in the pitch or in the air. Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj will form the Indian pace attack alongside Thakur.
A wildcard move doing the rounds is that spinner Washington Sundar can play in place of Ravindra Jadeja as a like for like replacement as he can give India some batting at number 7. Sundar is currently not part of the test squad but that isn't a major issue.
Marcus Harris to replace Pucovski, Warner to play
Australia are sweating over the shoulder injury of Will Pucovski which he suffered at Sydney while diving to save a ball in the field. Warner is also not a 100% fit which was evident in the third test match but Australia's head coach Justin Langer has backed him to play the last match of the series.
To be honest, Pucovski does not look likely to make the playing XI and backup opener Marcus Harris might take his place, with Wade sticking to the middle order.
It would be interesting to see how the Australian pace trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc pull up after having to bowl 131 overs in the final innings at Sydney. Win the toss and bat first, they'll be praying for sure.
Here's the probable playing XIs:
Australia - David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (c & wk), Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood
India - Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav/R Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj
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