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Brisbane Test: Injury-hit India struggle to find right combination

Following the epic Sydney showdown the caravan of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has reached the capital of Queensland where the fourth and final Test of this evenly poised series will go underway from Friday (January 14). The venue, Gabba in Brisbane, has been a fortress for the Aussies as they haven’t lost a Test match here since 1988. In hindsight, coming into this series-decider the Indian camp has been bombarded with a series of injuries. The situation so much out of control that the visitors are presently struggling to find a decent bowling attack. Hence, the last game of this highly competitive tour of Australia is going to India’s steepest challenge in recent years.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who had a couple of decent games in Melbourne and Sydney, has already been ruled out of this Test due to a dislocated thumb and alongside one of the heroes of the last Test, Hanuma Vihari, who sustained a hamstring injury during his match-saving knock. Furthermore, the leader of India’s pace attack Jasprit Bumrah too is currently under observation for his abdominal strain. The team management will wait till the mooring of the game to reassess his fitness, as confirmed by the batting coach Vikarm Rathour in the pre-match press conference. Nevertheless, in all likelihood, the think-tank won’t risk playing a half-hit Bumrah considering the upcoming World Test Championship assignment against England (four-Test series) starting from February 5 in Chennai.

If Bumrah doesn’t play then Shardul Thakur or T Natarajan could come into the mix. On such a scenario Siraj, with two matches under his belt, will be the most experienced pacer in the Indian XI.

Further media reports coming in from Down Under have stated that spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who showed immense courage with bat alongside Vihari on that Day 5 surface at SCG, is not hundred percent fit either. Though India have left-armer Kuldeep Yadav in their squad who can come in as a specialist spinner if Ashwin fails to make the cut. There is also uncapped off-spinner Washington Sundar, who can be a like for like replacement. Considering the bounce of the Gabba surface and the lack of experience in the pace department, the management could also go ahead with two spinners (Kuldeep and either Ashwin or Sundar).

India could even play both Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha. In that case Saha will take the keeping gloves and Pant will play as a specialist batsman at No.5. Meanwhile, there is also Mayank Agarwal, who can be considered to bat in the middle-order, provided he regains his fitness after being hit on the arm while batting in the nets in Sydney.

Due to all these uncertainties related to fitness of the players, the management has decided not to announce their XI on the eve of this fourth Test, like they did in the previous three occasions.

CricketNews’ predicted Indian XI for the fourth Test:

Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj

Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at CricketNews.com in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match!

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