After a 36 all-out debacle in the first Test, a memorable comeback in the second, and a defiant performance in the third, India head to The Gabba on Friday with hopes of bringing home the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Australia, disappointed with their performance on the final day of the Sydney Test, would like to focus on reclaiming the Trophy at their fortress for the first time since 2017.
Tim Paine’s men would be more than happy that the fourth and final Test is being held at their favourite ground. Out of the past 31 Tests held at The Gabba, 24 Tests were won by the hosts with seven resulting in a draw. The last time Australia lost a match at The Gabba was back in 1988, against the then-mighty West Indies.
Brisbane typically hosts the first Test of Australian summer, giving the Aussies early momentum against any challenger on home soil. After initial quarantine restrictions forced Brisbane Test to the back of the summer calendar, a new wave of cases in neighbouring states prompted Queensland to re-introduce tougher quarantine restrictions and shut the state’s borders. This led to protests from the Indians, who have agreed to travel to Brisbane only after certain guarantees were given in writing.
CAN AUSTRALIA STABILISE ITS SHAKY LINE-UP?
With just a three-day gap between Tests, both teams are facing huge challenges to bolster their prospects.
Australia’s opening line-up has been a weak-point right from the start of the series – with David Warner missing the first two Tests, and still nervous about his groin injury. Australian selectors have been forced to drop Joe Burns after his lacklustre scores in the first two Tests. Will Pucovski made an impressive international debut but faces an anxious wait to see if he can recover from a shoulder injury in time for the fourth Test. If he doesn’t recover in time, Matthew Wade might be forced up the order to open alongside David Warner.
The performance of Australian bowlers, who have put on a historic show in the first Test, has been questioned of late. After bowling a tiresome 130 overs in the fourth innings, they have just three days to turnaround their fitness levels and energy on the field.
INDIA’S INJURY WOES
India’s woes with injury started even before the start of the tour, with both Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma missing the squad.
During the tour, India lost both Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, leaving Jasprit Bumrah as the lone experienced pacer along-side the inexperienced Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj. Bumrah has been spotted clutching his abdomen repeatedly on the final day of the third Test, and his fitness for the fourth Test remains in doubt. If he misses the fourth Test, India’s bowling line-up has to be spearheaded by Mohmmad Siraj, who played in only two Tests so far.
Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin put on a defiant stand on the final day of the Sydney Test, rightly earning them accolades, but they did so with injuries. Vihari sustained a hamstring injury, while Ashwin is battling a back-issue. With Jadeja already being ruled out of the fourth Test due to a dislocated thumb, India’s lower-order batting line-up is in tatters. Washington Sundar will be making his debut to fill in Jadeja’s shoes in the spin department.
Sydney’s drawn Test-match has been hailed as a psychological victory for India, and the mood in both the camps certainly reflects that. Going into the fourth Test, however, Australia look to be clear favourites. The team suffers from too many injuries, and a short turnaround time doesn’t help matters. Quarantine restrictions mean that Indians do not have the luxury of flying-in any more replacements.
Tim Paine’s men cannot wait to step in the field at their fortress to clinch the series.
India Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane(C), Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur.
Australia Predicted XI: David Warner, Will Pucovski, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine(C), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.
When: Friday, January 15, 2021. 09:30 AM Local, 05:00 AM IST
Where: Brisbane Cricket Ground or The Gabba, Brisbane
Where to Watch: The match will be streamed on Sony Six, Sony Ten 3 and Sony Liv for Indian viewers.
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