Injuries have been a constant setback for India in the ongoing Test series in Australia with key players falling by the wayside, but the visitors have stood up to the task every time.
The batting debacle in the series opener in Adelaide was an eye-opener for the Indian team. The visitors have come back so strongly since that horror showing that even the departure of captain and batting mainstay Virat Kohli after the first game hasn’t affected them — or rather they have made up for it quite well.
India streamrolled Australia in the second Test in Melbourne, before the hosts made a good comeback in Sydney. Australia looked all set to take a 2-1 leadgoing in the fifth day in Sydney before the visitors thwarted with an inspiration batting performance to draw the game.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari batted out of their skin on a difficult pitch to clinch the draw, which in the end felt like a victory for the Indians.
Even as they seek to take inspiration from their gutsy battle at the SCG, the team has been rocked with more injuries to compound their woes ahead of the series decider at the Gabba.
Ravindra Jadeja is on his way home after dislocating his left thumb, thereby depleting India’s bowling further.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah could miss the fourth Test because of an abdominal strain he suffered during the SCG Test. A hamstring injury could keep Vihari out of the Brisbane encounter.
With just three days between the two Tests, Ravichandran Ashwin (sore back) and Rishabh Pant (elbow injury) are also battling against time to get themselves fit for the Gabba.
The absence of Bumrah, which is yet to be confirmed by the BCCI, will be the biggest loss for India who have already seen Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav pull out of the series with injuries.
In Boom Boom’s absence, young Mohammed Siraj, who impressed in the last two Tests, will shoulder the burden of the pace attack along with rookies Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur. The Gabba has traditionally been a hunting ground for fast bowlers because of its extra pace and bounce.
Kuldeep Yadav, who is yet to get a game in the series, could be drafted in place of Jadeja if India opt for two spinners instead of four fast bowlers.
It remains to be seen if India bring back Wriddhiman Saha as the wicket-keeper and include Pant as a specialist batsman given that the youngster has struggled with the gloves, but proved his worth as a Test batsman (97 at the SCG).
India could also draft Mayank Agarwal down the order — if Vihari is unfit — considering he is a good player of spin bowling and can prove handy against the second new ball.
Who should replace Bumrah if he is unable to play at Gabba? Shardul or T Natarajan?
Should India try out Kuldeep?
Should India bring in Agarwal in place of Vihari?
Should India field four fast bowlers at the Babba?
Who do you think should be part of India’s playing XI for the fourth Test? Please pick your team by clicking on the boxes below:
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