India has a selection headache to deal with ahead of the fourth and final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series against Australia. With batsman Hanuma Vihari, pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, all-rounders Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, being the latest additions to the ever-growing list of injury concerns, the team management is in a quandary regarding who will fill in the glaring gaps in the squad.
Batting coach Vikram Rathour, while addressing the media on Thursday, said the medical staff will be giving the injured cricketers as much time as is possible to recuperate from their respective niggles. He said, “The injuries are still being monitored. Our medical staff is looking into them. They are working with all the players. So, I won’t be in a position to comment on how it stands at the moment.
“We would like to give them as much time as we can. And tomorrow morning only, we will know which eleven is gonna play… All of them deserve to be there… to have the opportunity to play Test cricket. Despite injuries, I can assure you we will be fielding the best eleven.”
The fightback in Sydney
India’s resilient show against the world-class Australian pacers to salvage a draw on a dying wicket in Sydney earned accolades and Rathour believes the side’s preparation ahead of the series Down Under made it a tougher unit.
“The toughness comes from the preparation. The boys have not only been working hard for this Tour, but they have also worked hard for many, many years now. They are good players and we believe in their abilities. Even after the Sydney Test, from coaching staff’s perspective, what was being said to them was we need to have belief in our preparation,” he said.
‘Don’t believe in momentum’
When asked whether India will be at an advantage at the Gabba, carrying forward the momentum from the previous Test, Rathour said, “I don’t really believe in momentum. After 36-all out [36/9; Mohammed Shami retired hurt in Adelaide] and then to come back and win the next game [in Melbourne] doesn’t tell you about momentum. As far as I am concerned, I think, we have the ability [to win].”
The pitch at the Brisbane Cricket Ground has often been called the “truest wicket” in Australia owing to the added bounce it offers to the pacers. The track has been known to make things difficult for batsmen and Rathour agreed to the fact that he is happy that India has got a lot of preparation time in the lead-up to this Test. “On this Tour, we got a lot of time to prepare. We came early and we got a lot of practice. This, being a wicket where you have more bounce and more pace, I think the boys will handle it pretty well with the practice that they’ve got,” the 51-year-old said.
Plans in place for Lyon, Smith
India, in this series, has successfully managed to silence the experienced Nathan Lyon. The Australian off-spinner has picked up only six wickets in the last three Tests and Rathour says, like against any other bowler, the team had circled in on techniques to counter the 33-year-old. “Like in the case of any other bowler, there was a lot of discussion – the lines he bowls, the lengths, what we want to do when we get in there. These talks started taking place during the lockdown. It was going to be an important Tour for us. They boys were ready with their game plans. In this tour, we have executed the plans well and so far, they have worked.”
Steve Smith scored a major bulk of the runs in Sydney, having struck form at his home ground, with scores of 131 and 81 in the first and second innings, respectively. Rathour, praising the current World No. 2 Test batsman, said, “We all know he is a great player. Our bowlers have been working on specific plans against him and all the other batters of the Australian cricket team. In the last game, he scored some runs, yes, but we will back our plans. Hope we get him out [earlier in] this game.”