A bruised and battered Indian team will line up against hosts Australia at an intimidating venue — The Gabba — where the Kangaroos haven’t lost since 1988. India have never won a Test at The Gabba, plunging the injury-ravaged touring side into further misery. More than turning the tables in Brisbane, the Ajinkya Rahane
After enduring a horror batting collapse in the Test series opener in Adelaide, the Indian team has put up impressive performances in Melbourne and Sydney, especially when they have been compelled to resort to their bench.
As India prepares for the fourth and final Test, skipper Rahane and head coach Ravi Shastri will be scratching their heads before putting the best XI on the ground. While India’s pace spearhead, Jasprit Bumrah, is still being monitored by the team management, Ravindra Jadeja has been ruled out of the series.
To rub salt to the side’s fitness woes, Mayank Agarwal was hit on the forearm in nets and Ashwin has been battling back spasms. SCG hero Hanuma Vihari, reportedly, has also been ruled out of the Brisbane Test following a Grade 2 hamstring tear.
“We will take a call tomorrow. The medical team is working with all the injured players. If Bumrah is fit, he plays, if he is not fit, he doesn’t play,” batting coach Vikram Rathour said at the pre-match conference.
After a gutsy and awe-inspiring show in Sydney, the fourth Test will be nothing but a ‘flight for glory’ for the visiting side.
With Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill not being a part of the injury list, the team management won’t be interesting in tweaking the opener. If Agarwal is deemed fit, he could bat at No.3 position, followed by Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahane.
After Rishabh Pant’s quick-fire 97 in the third Test, he’ll likely be entrusted to bolster the middle order, especially after Vihari’s oust. India could also play only four bowlers instead of five, picking Prithvi Shaw or Wriddhiman Saha in place of injured Jadeja.
Washington Sundar could also make his Test debut as a like-for-like replacement of Jadeja. If the team management decides to go with Saha, Pant will likely be stripped of wicketkeeping duties.
While the batting set-up looks decent, it’s the bowling attack which can let India down on a bouncy Gabba wicket. The inexperienced duo of Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini will lead the pace battery, with Shardul Thakur coming in the side as the third pacer. A naive bowling unit will take on the likes of Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner. However, if Ashwin passes the fitness test, the veteran will be at the helm in Brisbane.
India’s Predicted Playing XI for fourth Test: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur/Jasprit Bumrah
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