Australia and India will both make changes for the winner-takes-all-showdown in Brisbane, where a highly eventful series comes to a conclusion with the fourth Test.
The two nations are tied at 1-1 heading into the final game after India, despite being beset by injury issues, successfully batted out the final day to secure a hard-earned draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
There has been little time for rest and recovery for those involved, while much of the media attention in the aftermath has surrounded the on-field behaviour of Australia’s current captain, Tim Paine, and the man he replaced in the role, Steve Smith.
Paine was fined for dissent after questioning an umpiring decision during the third Test, though it was his verbal sparring with Ravichandran Ashwin on the final day – plus a plethora of dropped catches behind the stumps – that put him in the spotlight.
Now, though, the skipper and his side must focus on trying to secure a victory at the Gabba – a venue that holds good memories for Australia but less so India, who have failed to triumph there in six previous visits.
The hosts will again have a new opening partnership on duty too, with Will Pucovski ruled out due to a shoulder injury after a promising Test debut. Marcus Harris will take his place at the top of the order.
Australia are set to go with an unchanged attack despite the short turnaround – the previous game finished on Monday – meaning off-spinner Nathan Lyon will play in his 100th Test.
India, meanwhile, have not given anything away in terms of team selection, though at least two changes will be needed to replace injured duo Ravindra Jadeja, who has had surgery on a dislocated thumb, and Hanuma Vihari.
Jasprit Bumrah is also reportedly a major doubt, potentially leaving the tourists without their leading paceman for the decider.
“If he can play, he will play,” India batting coach Vikram Rathour said of Bumrah on the eve of the game. “The injuries are still being monitored. Our medical staff is working with all the players.”
It has been a busy trip for India’s medical staff, that is for sure. Still, whoever takes the field for India will know a draw will be enough to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
LYON REACHES SPECIAL LANDMARK
Lyon will become the 13th Australian to reach a century of Tests, while he is only four away from reaching 400 wickets in the format.
“I look at the 12 other guys who have played over 100 Test matches for Australia, and they’re pure legends in my eyes, not just for Cricket Australia but all around the world,” he said ahead of the personal landmark.
“I’m going to pinch myself each and every day to see my name amongst those players and be the 13th player to do so. It’s pretty amazing. I’ve tried in the past not to look too far ahead, but I’m pretty excited about this one.”
His career haul includes dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane 10 times apiece, making the India duo the batsmen he has dismissed the most in Tests.
PATCHED-UP INDIA CAN MAKE HISTORY
If India can record a victory and end Australia’s 31-Test unbeaten run at the Gabba, they will secure back-to-back Test series triumphs on Australian soil for the first time.
It will be an even more impressive achievement when taking into consideration the absences. Captain Virat Kohli returned home after the first Test, while Mohammed Shami also only played the once. Ishant Sharma, meanwhile, has not featured at all. Now, with Vihari and Jadeja sidelined, there will be a new-look middle order.
Wicketkeepers Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha could both feature; the former had his issues with the gloves in Sydney but made a counter-attacking 97 in the final innings that helped save the Test.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Australia are undefeated in their last 31 Tests in Brisbane (W24, D7). Their last defeat in such a fixture at the venue came in November 1988.
– A win for Australia in this match would secure three consecutive Test series victories – the last time they achieved such a feat was from November 2015 to February 2016.
– Pat Cummins has a bowling strike rate of 36.4 in Tests in Brisbane, the best of any player to record 500 deliveries there. His best Test innings figures came at the ground, as he claimed 6-23 against Sri Lanka in January 2019.
– Pujara has been removed four times (in six innings) by Cummins during this series, the most instances by any bowler against a batsman; scoring just 42 in response.
– Australia batsmen have been dismissed lbw on 11 occasions in the three previous Tests; India have only been out in that manner three times. All five lbw decisions at the SCG were against the hosts.
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