Despite the immense encouragement that Ajinkya Rahane-led Team India has gained from the epic Sydney Test draw, the visitors might just lack the personnel who could give fruition to what has been an unbelievable Australian tour for the Men in Blue.
After starting the Border Gavaskar Trophy with a humiliating eight-wicket loss in Adelaide, the Indian cricket team has shown grit, determination and adamance in keeping the four-match Test series alive by winning the Boxing Day Test match and drawing the last one in Sydney.
However, the never-ending injury woes might affect Team India’s chances of scripting an epic series win Down Under.
Jadeja, Vihari out of Brisbane Test
Team India’s spectacular draw in Sydney was followed by a series of disappointing news as Hanuma Vihari and Ravindra Jadeja were ruled out of the Brisbane Test against Australia.
India’s Sydney Test saviour, Vihari has been ruled out after he had suffered a hamstring injury during his match-saving innings at the SCG.
India will also miss the services of their star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who on Tuesday informed that he has undergone surgery after suffering a blow on his thumb during the Sydney Test. The southpaw will also miss the first two Test matches against England.
Bumrah, Ashwin, Agarwal doubtful for the fourth Test at Gabba
Team India is also fretting over the availability of star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who has aggravated his back spasms after battling for three hours on the final day, leaving little options for the visitors on the bench.
Jasprit Bumrah (side strain) out of 4th Test, Ashwin (battered and bruised during memorable match saving inning at Sydney) doubtful. With Jadeja and Vihari also out, what playing XI can India cobble together for Brisbane?— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) January 12, 2021
Their bowling spearhead, Jasprit Bumrah, who was initially ruled out of the Brisbane Test, is now on the brink of return as batting coach Vikram Rathour has confirmed that the team's medical staff is monitoring his situation and a final call over his availability will be taken on the matchday itself.
"Medical team is working with Bumrah. We'll have to wait till tomorrow morning to see how he pulls up. If he can play great and if he can't we'll deal with it," batting coach Vikram Rathour said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
"There's still a lot of injury concerns, they're still being monitored. All these questions can be answered only tomorrow morning," Rathour added.
To make things worse for India, Mayank Agarwal, who has been talked about as a potential playing XI candidate for the Brisbane Test, has sustained a knock on the hands and it could be a hairline fracture.
Previous injury woes
The visitors are already missing the services of fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav who have returned home after sustaining injuries in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy and are currently recuperating at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
On the other hand, first-choice pacer Ishant Sharma did not travel with the Indian team to Australia due to injury.
Furthermore, ace batsman, KL Rahul has also returned to India with a wrist injury after the second Test in Melbourne.
The Indian cricket team is also missing their regular skipper Virat Kohli who returned home to attend the birth of his child, born on Monday.
What changes can India make for the fourth Test
With Vihari and Jadeja ruled out of the Brisbane Test, India could draft Wriddhiman Saha as regular wicketkeeper and play Rishabh Pant as the specialist batsman.
There is also a possibility that Kuldeep Yadav might return to the Test playing XI, replacing left-arm spinner Jadeja.
On the other hand, if Team India continue to play with five specialist batsmen and five bowlers, either Shardul Thakur or T Natarajan might be drafted into the playing XI if Bumrah is unavailable.
India’s likely playing XI vs Australia in Brisbane Test
The Indian cricket team might continue to play with five specialist batsmen and five bowlers in the fourth and final Test at the Gabba in Brisbane.
India’s likely playing XI for Brisbane Test: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gil, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj.
Feature image courtesy: AEED KHAN / AFP