Former Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has talked about Team India’s chances of sealing a historic win against Australia in the Gabba Test and winning the Border-Gavaskar series for the second time in a row on their tour of the Aussie nation.
India had won the previous edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy during the tour of Australia in 2018-19. The tourists scripted a 2-1 win in the 4-match series and became the first Asian side to beat the Aussies on their own soil in the longest format of the game.
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Cheteshwar Pujara was the Player of the Series for his mammoth tally of 521 runs in 4 Test matches including 3 hundreds and a fifty, while pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who was the highest wicket-taker in the series with 21 scalpings at an average of 17.00, will be missing out on the upcoming Gabba Test owing to an abdominal strain.
Akhtar reckons that the Indian cricket team has the bench strength to dominate the final Test and that they will have to make one last push to clinch a record victory.
“Now at the final stages (of the series), I think India has got it in them to win this series. Again, a last little push, where they will face issues, they have several injury concerns, but the Indian bench strength has to believe that they can do it, they need to give one last effort and they can win the series,” said Akhtar in a video posted on his YouTube channel.
The former speedster further stated that if Team India pulls off a victory in the forthcoming duel, then it will be the biggest series win in the history of Test cricket.
“If from this point onwards, India goes on to win this series, then that will be a big victory. According to me, it will be the biggest series win in Test history,” said the 45-year-old.
All credit goes to India, they have shown a lot of guts: Shoaib Akhtar
“I think all credit goes to India because they have shown a lot of guts, a lot of guts. The whole team, spinner, tailenders, fast bowlers, Bumrah has put in all his energy, even got himself injured, but did not let the series slip away,” said Akhtar, who picked 178 wickets in 46 Tests.
The Border-Gavaskar 2020-21 is currently leveled at 1-1. Australia won the opening match of the series, a day-night Test, by 8-wickets at Adelaide Oval, binding out the tourists on their lowest ever Test score in an innings (36). India then made a comeback for ages, courtesy of the scintillating ton under pressure from skipper Ajinkya Rahane and debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj in the second Test at MCG.
Rahane is currently leading the batting charts for the tourists, scoring 207 runs in 3 matches at an average of 41.40. In the bowling department, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has bagged the most wickets (12) in the Indian contingent at an average of 28.33.
Interestingly, Rahane hasn’t lost a Test match as a captain. And, none of his Test tons have ever come in a losing cause in his career.
However, one must remember that Australia have not lost a Test match at their fortress, the Gabba, since 1988. Ahead of the series finale, the hosts have announced the playing XI for the final Test, with a sole replacement as Marcus Harris replaces Will Pucovski.
Pucovski had suffered a shoulder injury on the final day of the third Test at SCG and couldn’t clear the fitness test on Thursday morning.
Harris, who has amassed 385 runs in 9 Tests at an average of 24.1, will be opening the innings alongside David Warner in the must-win contest. The southpaw recorded scores of 35, 25*, 26 and 5 in the two practice Test matches against India A ahead of the ongoing Test series.
Australia’s playing XI for the fourth Test:
David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (Captain & Wicket-Keeper), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.