With Jadeja and Bumrah in the sidelines, Kuldeep and either Shardul or Natarajan are likely to make the playing XI; the home team too has fitness issues
India, plagued by injuries, headed to Australia’s Gabba fortress for Friday’s final Test with high hopes of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after securing an epic draw in Sydney to leave the series locked at 1-1.
But Australia will be optimistic of snatching a series win at the Gabba, where it is unbeaten in more than three decades, especially as India has been hit by a series of injuries.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out on Wednesday after dislocating his left thumb in Sydney, while fast-bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah is set to miss the final Test with an abdominal strain.
If Bumrah cannot play, the already inexperienced attack will be led by Mohammed Siraj, who has only played two Tests, alongside Navdeep Saini who made his debut at Sydney plus one of the uncapped T. Natarajan or Shardul Thakur. There are also doubts over the fitness of No. 6 batsman Hanuma Vihari, who tore his hamstring during his 161-ball vigil for 23 runs that helped earn the unlikely draw on Monday.
Fellow Sydney hero R. Ashwin, who spent more than three hours at the crease with Vihari in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand to save the game, has a back issue.
Despite the horror injury-run, Sunil Gavaskar believes India can win in Brisbane.
“I know that the Gabba in Brisbane is Australia’s fortress but India has the ability to take on the Australians,” he told the Indian media this week. “They (Australia) have not lost there since 1988 but there is always a first time. If Ajinkya Rahane and company do it, I won’t be surprised at all.”
Australia has its own injury worries with young opener Will Pucovski facing an anxious wait after suffering a partial dislocation of his right shoulder while fielding in Sydney.
Meanwhile, the Indian team underwent its first training session at the Gabba here on Wednesday, hoping to field 11 fit players .
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav was seen bowling at the nets and there is a chance that he could be picked for the match with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja ruled out due to a fractured thumb.
The teams (from):
India: Ajinkya Rahane (Capt.), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R. Ashwin, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, T. Natarajan, Kuldeep Yadav and Prithvi Shaw.
Australia: Tim Paine (Capt.), David Warner, Marcus Harris, Will Pucovski, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Cameron Green, Mathew Wade, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Michael Neser and Mitchell Swepson.
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford and Paul Reiffel; Third umpire: Rod Tucker; Match referee: David Boon.
Match starts at 5 a.m. IST on Friday (January 15).
Live on Sony Ten 1, 3 and Six (SD & HD).