Can the Aussies bounce back in next two Tests?


Steve Smith will lead his team in the third Test match against India

Australia will play India in Indore in the third Test from March 1 while the fourth Test will be played in Ahmedabad from March 9

Our Bureau
New Delhi

Australia will continue its practice in Delhi at the Arun Jaitley Stadium before leaving for Indore for the third Test in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, as per sources. The Aussie team trail by two Tests in the series with the third match scheduled to begin on March 1.

“The Aussie team came for practice in the morning at Arun Jaitley Stadium with all players. They practised for around 4 to 5 hours, and they will leave for Indore on Sunday from Delhi,” a source said.

After sealing the second Test on the third day here at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Sunday, Team India players left for their homes as the Test match got over with two days to spare, the players decided to spend their time with their families.

India have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ongoing four-match Test series.

Smith to lead in Indore Test

Steve Smith will lead the Australian Test team against India in the third Test match in Indore starting March 1 as Pat Cummins will not return next week from Australia due to family reasons.

Cummins had to fly back home to Sydney after losing the second Test match, explaining in a statement that his mother ‘is ill and in palliative care’. He was supposed to return back from home because there was a nine-day break between the second Test match in New Delhi to the third Test match in Indore. “I have decided against returning to India at this time. I feel I am best being here with my family. I appreciate the overwhelming support I have received from Cricket Australia and my teammates. Thanks for your understanding, ” said Australian captain Pat Cummins as per

The 29-year-old pacer’s absence is the latest blow to Aussies’ hopes in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. Earlier, pacer Josh Hazelwood and opener David Warner returned home due to injuries. Left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc will likely be the replacement of his captain and will lead the pace attack.

Smith has captained Australia in 34 Tests between 2014 and 2018, including Australia’s most recent Test tour of India in 2017, a controversy-marred campaign in which Smith dominated with the bat, scoring three centuries. In the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy series he has scored 71 runs in four innings at an average of 23.66.

India has an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ongoing four-match Test series and Captain Pat Cummins’ absence will make things more difficult for the visitors.

Cameron Green ‘ready to go’ against India

Australia all-rounder Cameron Green has declared himself “100 per cent ready” for the third Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test against India in Indore. Green had broken a finger while batting during the Boxing Day Test against South Africa last year.

The all-rounder was very close to playing the second Test in Delhi but eventually decided against it. “I was so, so close last game, but I think probably having an extra week has helped a lot, I am 100% ready to go,” quoted Green as saying.

“It’s just a few instances in the nets where I’d go for a sweep and it just jarred the end of my bat. We probably just thought that we’d sacrifice a game and with obviously the year ahead that we’ve got, it’s probably the right call,” he added.

Australia will welcome the addition of a fast-bowling option in Green. The all-rounder has 806 Test runs at 35.04 average and six half-centuries to his credit. He has also taken 23 wickets at a 29.78 average, with one five-for.

Green’s return to the line-up is a huge relief for Australia, who are already dealing with injuries and departures. David Warner, Ashton Agar, and Josh Hazelwood have already left, and skipper Pat Cummins is in Australia for a family issue.

David Warner on his Test career future

Australia batter David Warner has embraced the idea of his Test career being ended before the Ashes, deciding to continue purely as a white ball player if he receives the call to be informed of his long-form time is done.

The experienced opener returned to Sydney on Thursday after his tour of India was cut short due to an elbow injury. After being hit by Mohammed Siraj during the first innings of the second Test in Delhi, Warner suffered a hairline fracture in his left elbow. He was hit on the helmet two overs later, experiencing delayed concussion symptoms, and was substituted out of the Test match.

Despite scoring just one Test century in the previous three years, the 36-year-old feels he is the fine batter to open the batting in this year’s Ashes tour.

“I’ve always said I’m playing to 2024; if the selectors feel that I’m not worthy of my spot, then so be it, and I can push on to the white-ball stuff. I’ve got the next 12 months, a lot of crickets ahead for the team and if I can keep scoring runs and putting my best foot forward for the team and I can help my spot, it’d be great for the team. It’s easy pickings (for critics) when you’re 36 going on 37. I’ve seen it before with the ex-players as well. So, for me if I’m taking pressure off the rest of the other guys, and no one’s worrying about the rest of the team, I’m happy to do that,” Warner told reporters at Sydney Airport as quoted by Sydney Morning Herald.

When asked if Warner was still in Australia’s plans for the five-Test series against England in June, selector Tony Dodemaide was hesitant to commit to the aggressive left-hander.

“We’re worried about what we can get out of these remaining two Tests (in India), obviously that’s a clear focus for us at the moment. We’ll address the Ashes planning (at a later time), but we are committed to picking the best fit and available players for Test series, particularly something as big as the Ashes. That’s not a question that we’ve addressed so far. We are very keen, as everyone I’m sure at home would be, for us to get something out of this remaining series,” said the Australia batter.

Warner, along with bowling allrounder Ashton Agar, has left the troublesome trip, with Australia behind 0-2 and their chances of recovering the Border-Gavaskar Trophy already ended. Australia is already without the services of Josh Hazelwood due to a persistent Achilles injury while Mitchell Starc is expected to play in Indore after having recovered from his finger injury.

India will play Australia in Indore for the third Test that starts on March 1 while the fourth Test will be played in Ahmedabad from March 9.

Nagpur and Delhi pitches receive “average” rating

India’s pitches in Nagpur and Delhi for the first two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia have received an average rating from the International Cricket Council (ICC), reported Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday.

The playing surfaces were a subject of huge discussion ahead of the blockbuster series. The pitch at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur has received an “average” rating from the governing body of the sport and its match referee, Zimbabwe’s Andy Pycroft. The strip for the second Test at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, where Australia fought hard for two days before bundling out for 113 runs in the third, was also an “average” rating by Pycroft. The surface was deemed to be fair if not perfect.

The preparation of the Nagpur pitch was of heavy interest to the Australian side. Star batters David Warner and Steve Smith were seen observing the surface closely and pressing against the pitch to check its hardness at various points before the match started. Images of “selective watering” also emerged online, which was done to ensure the areas outside off stump of left-handers were left dry for spinners.

Warner’s concerns about the surface were very evident the way he practised. He batted right-handed during the nets session and even considered doing so during the match.

Indian spinners were able to exploit the surface better, evident by the fact that both matches ended in three days with the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja dominating the Australian batters.

Jadeja and Axar Patel proved to be difficult to dismiss for Australians as spin veteran Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Pat Cummins, Scott Boland failed to dismiss them for low scores.

Jadeja and Patel have scored 254 runs combined in the series, which is more than 242 runs made by seven left-handers playing in the Australian team – Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Alex Carey, Warner, Matt Kuhnemann, Matt Renshaw and Murphy.

Australia’s high-performance chief, Ben Oliver defended his side’s truncated preparation for Indian pitches, but his predecessor Pat Howard pointed out that a prolonged period of preparations are needed. Back in 2017 during their last visit to India, Australia had taken a 1-0 lead, but lost the series by 2-1.

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