For some reason I’ve always thought Nathan Lyon was French.
With a cracker of a game at Sydney, we have a mouth-watering series decider waiting for us at the Gabba. There is everything to play for.
With the depleted resources available for India, the Aussies go in as favourites. The Gabba is their fortress, with the Aussies having not lost a Test since 1988.
India find themselves stretching every bit of the reserves they are carrying, with an injured XI so to speak, is much stronger than what they going to field at Brisbane!
Already there’s a joke going around that it’s going to be Australia versus India A for the final Test!
Australia on the other hand find themselves not without problems. Tim Paine rightfully faced lot of flak for his conduct, not to speak of his wicketkeeping, in the third Test.
Steve Smith finds himself once again surrounded in a sportsmanship controversy and Australia’s first choice openers are doubtful starters for the final Test as they have injury concerns looming in.
Not to forget the workload and possible burnout for their fast bowlers playing back to back Tests after sending down quite a few overs at Sydney.
Fitness wise, their only dilemma is who to open with, after Will Puckovski injured his shoulder on the final day.
They have Marcus Harris as a readymade opener waiting in the wings and he should get his chance.
Justin Langer has come out and said Dave Warner would most likely open in the fourth test, injury concerns notwithstanding.
Had Warner missed, they could have moved Matt Wade up the order again, with Travis Head making a comeback in the middle order. They might still go with Wade as an opener, with Harris sitting out.
India on the other other, after the high of drawing a probable loss, finds themselves again in low waters with their leader of the attack Bumrah ruled out for the final Test and Ashwin being seriously in doubt as well.
With a real rookie attack at their disposal, I would like India to go with five bowling options than trying to strengthen their batting line-up and playing for a draw.
They should rather give more responsibility to the batsmen playing. My XI for the Gabba test, keeping the injury concerns in mind would be:
1. Rohit Sharma
2. Shubman Gill
3. Cheteshwar Pujara
4. Ajinkya Rahane
5. Rishabh Pant
6. Wriddhiman Saha
7. Shardul Thakur
8. Yadav Kuldeep
9. Navdeep Saini
10. Mohammed Siraj
11. Thangarasu Natarajan
India don’t have much choice anyway. Mayank Agarwal was in contention but he’s also hurt his wrist and would be doubtful to make to the XI.
Prithvi Shaw is another contender, but looks more like a walking wicket against this bowling line-up. Saha would be better fit as India needs to catch every chance that comes their way when playing with such a depleted attack.
His glove work gives more surety than Pant’s and this also would give Pant a breather as he also injured his hands the previous game and sat out the fourth day.
Kuldeep should be a natural replacement for Ashwin if he isn’t fit. Natarajan, although he might not be Test ready yet, should be fit enough. Also his left arm variation would bring a different variety to the attack.
If India just goes with four bowlers then they would only be playing for a draw from the onset, which might bring about their downfall.
When all is said and done, this is expected to be an enticing finish to a thrilling series.
India should go in as the underdogs who have nothing to lose and come hard at Aussies, who might be feeling bit pressure to win the fourth Test at their own backyard with their strongest team available!
I cannot wait for the battle to begin.