When Ravichandran Ashwin was asked about India’s team combination for the Brisbane Test moments India’s heroic draw, his answer cracked up the broadcasters despite accurately representing the situation of the Indian dressing room.
“Look I think what Ajinkya is going to do is hop onto the dressing room and call 11 of us and whoever is ready to go. We are losing people in a hurry. I have never been on a tour, thanks to these Covid times that the body has rested so much,” the off-spinner, who took blows to the body while battling a stiff back on Day 5, in Sydney said.
It’s not an exaggeration to say India’s dressing room at Sydney resembled a hospital ward. Ravindra Jadeja, who was hit on the thumb on Day 3, was waiting for his turn to bat but with a bandage around his broken thumb. Ashwin refrained from sitting throughout his time in the dressing room as he was keen on taking care of his sore back. Hanuma Vihari was not able to walk up the SCG dressing room stairs due to a torn hamstring. Rishabh Pant was battling pain in his elbow.
Despite being battered and bruised, India’s didn’t let their grit and determination take a beating. They batted 131 overs on Day 5 of the Sydney Test to snatch a memorable draw and keep the series leveled at 1-1. It has been the case with Team India. They were written off after the horror of 36-all out in Adelaide but despite missing Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami, they came back and won the Adelaide Test.
It’s getting tougher and tougher for India. On Tuesday, India Today reported that Jasprit Bumrah is unlikely to play the final Test due to an abdomen strain picked up during the Sydney Test. Team India is not willing to take the risk of fielding a half-fit Bumrah, especially after the workload he has gone through since the Indian Premier League.
India have an injury longlist now. A section of fans are wondering if India have 11 members to field in Brisbane. Will they need head coach Ravi Shastri or bowling coach Bharat Arun at the Gabba? Well, thanks to Covid-19 protocols, India traveled with a mega squad to Australia and they have the luxury of testing the bench strength further.
India’s injury longlist
Let’s look at the names that India have had to lose over the last few weeks
Ishant Sharma and Bhuveneshwar Kumar were ruled out well ahead of the Australia tour after the injuries they picked up during IPL 2020.
Mohammed Shami was ruled out after 1st Test after taking a blow to his elbow.
Umesh Yadav was ruled out after the 2nd Test due to a calf injury he picked up in India’s Melbourne win.
Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out after the 3rd Test with a fractured thumb.
Hanuma Vihari is all set to be ruled out due to a hamstring tear.
KL Rahul, who was a back-up opener, was ruled out of the series after a training injury.
Rohit Sharma was not available until the 3rd Test due to a hamstring injury.
Do India have the firepower to challenge Australia in Gabba?
After witnessing how the last 2 Tests panned out, it would be unwise to rule India out. However, if they are going to be without Bumrah in Brisbane, it will be a lot tougher.
India then would have to field a pace attack in which none of the bowlers would have played more than 2 Tests. Shardul Thakur is likely to replace Bumrah and the Mumbai pacer has the experience of having bowled 10 balls in his injury-curtailed Test debut in 2018.
Mohamed Siraj, who made his Test debut in Melbourne, is likely to lead the pace attack. Navdeep Saini, who is set to retain the place, is all set to retain his place in the XI.
India have the option of playing left-arm pacer T Natarajan as well.
On the other hand, there are concerns over Mayank Agarwal’s fitness as he was hit on the hand during training. If Mayank is unavailable, India might have to replace Vihari with either Prithvi Shaw or Rishabh Pant.
India squad for 4th Test: Ajinkya Rahane (Captain), Mayank Agarawal (Doubtful), Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma (vice-captain) Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Shardul Thakur, Wriddhiman Saha, T Natarajan, Jasprti Bumrah (Ddoubtful), Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav.