Heading into Friday’s fourth and final Test, India has an increasing injury list and Australia has both poor form and injury concerns.
We are waiting to see if Will Pucovski will be fit, but if he can’t play finding a replacement will definitely frustrate the selectors.
Do they move Matthew Wade back up the order even though his form and match awareness has come under question in the last two Tests? Alternatively, they could recall Joe Burns and hope his home ground will prove an advantage, however I doubt they would be keen on that.
The most likely replacement is Marcus Harris, but there is also a cloud over him. In his nine Tests, he has managed just two scores over 50 and has an average of 24.1.
To put that into perspective, Mitch Starc, Australia’s number nine, averages 22.2 with the bat.
There is also a question mark over Matthew Wade’s position given the manner of his dismissals in the series so far. It is all well and good showing intent, but when it means getting yourself dismissed when your team needs you, then being attacking is worthless.
The only real player that Australia could use in Wade’s position is Travis Head, who wasn’t in great form either before he got dropped for the third Test.
I expect the selectors to promote Wade to the top of the order and then bring Head back into the middle order, although both will be out to prove their spots.
This last one may not be popular, but Mitch Starc should have some question marks surrounding his place in the line-up.
In the Sydney, he took 1-127 from 41 overs across both innings. His line was all over the place and lacked the consistency that we saw from Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Across the three Tests so far, Starc has been the least successful of Australia’s fast bowling cartel with nine wickets.
The main arguments that would support Starc being selected include his ability to take early wickets with the new ball, his variance in angle being a left-hander, and that he can provide footmarks for Nathan Lyon to use against the right-handed batsmen.
However, this series Starc hasn’t been as threatening with the new ball – asides from against Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwall, both of whom have since been dropped.
In terms of him providing footmarks for Lyon, to put it bluntly, he hasn’t. This is due to him bowling around the wicket more than before, which also limits the variance in angle that he has against Indian batsmen.
The standout replacement is Micheal Neser, who is a standout bowling all-rounder for Queensland. Since the beginning of the 2017-18 Sheffield Shield season, Neser has taken 142 wickets at an average of 21.98 and he has the most experience at the Gabba of the fast-bowling options.
His batting is also worth noting, having notched up his maiden first-class ton this domestic season, which capped a number of 50-plus scores in the last two years.
Neser being selected could also result in all-round improvements from the Aussie bowlers – the fact that no one is safe may well be the extra motivation that is needed for the quicks to fire.