Australia has announced the squad for the third and fourth Tests against India that will take place at SCG and the Gabba respectively in the ongoing 4-match Border-Gavaskar series.
Opener David Warner has recovered from the injury sustained in the one-dayers against India due to which he was ruled out for the 3-match T20Is and the first two Test matches. The southpaw will replace right-hander Joe Burns, post the latter’s failure in the second Test at MCG wherein he recorded a duck and four runs in the first and second innings respectively.
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Also, Will Pucovski has been added to the 18-man Test squad and is likely to make his debut in the forthcoming match at SCG. The 22-year-old had suffered a concussion during the practice Test against India A and as a result, he was ruled out for the first couple of Tests. Pucuovski’s presence at the top-order alongside Warner would not just ensure a left-hand right-hand combination but it could add to Australia’s batting strength.
Pucovski has been phenomenal with the bat in the First-Class matches played to date. In 23 matches, he has aggregated 1744 runs at an astonishing average of 54.50, with 6 hundreds and an unbeaten 255* as the personal best.
The series is currently leveled at 1-1 with Australia winning the opening Test at Adelaide Oval and India, bouncing back magnificently, in the Boxing Day Test at MCG. However, there are a few concerns in the Indian tent. Pacer Umesh Yadav suffered a calf niggle in the second innings of the MCG Test and thus, he didn’t bowl more than 3.3 overs. The Nagpur-born cricketer has been sent for scans and in case he isn’t available for the next Test, then possibly left-armer T Natarajan would find himself in the Test unit.
Another concern for the Indian team management would be – whom to drop in the playing XI to accommodate Rohit Sharma for the SCG Test.
Meanwhile, Australia would be looking to find the right pick among Matthew Wade and Travis Head for the Sydney Test.
Wade, with knocks of 30(39) and 40(137) in the concluded Test match, has a higher chance of making it to the playing XI. If Wade is retained at the top spot, then he might end up opening the innings with David Warner.
On the other hand, Head has struggled to score runs in the ongoing series and has averaged a mere 20.67 in 3 innings with a high score of 38. He is more vulnerable to lose his spot to Pucovski in the upcoming Test. As far as their bowling department is concerned, they looked spot-on in the day-night Test but failed to get the breakthroughs in the immediate Test that followed. Still, it is unlikely that they would opt for any changes.
Australia’s squad for the third and fourth Tests:
Tim Paine (C), Pat Cummins, Sean Abbott, Marcus Harris, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Moises Henriques, Michael Neser, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Will Pucovski, David Warner, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Swepson, and Steve Smith.
The third Test between India and Australia will commence on January 7 at Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney.