Batting prodigy Will Pucovski is “ready to go”, captain Tim Paine said on Wednesday, as Australia appear set for a new opening partnership in the high-stakes third Test against India this week.
The cricketing heavyweights head into the clash with the series locked at 1-1, with both desperate for a win ahead of the final game in Brisbane next week.
Barring last-minute hiccups, Australia will welcome back veteran David Warner’s firepower at the top of the order with Pucovski tipped to make his debut alongside him after Joe Burns was dumped.
There had been speculation that selectors may stick with makeshift opener Matthew Wade even if Pucovski was fully recovered from the latest in a series of concussions.
But Paine hinted the 22-year-old, who smacked back-to-back Sheffield Shield double centuries this season, would play, which would see Wade drop back to his favoured number five and Travis Head likely axed.
“Davey’s been awesome, he brings really high intensity. It fills guys with confidence around him, he’s a player that you love having on your side,” said Paine of Warner’s return from a groin injury.
“He’s always got plenty to say, really energetic, very professional. And Will’s been fantastic as well,” he added. “He’s been out of the bubble for a couple of weeks, but he’s excited, he’s fresh. He looks ready to go if he’s called upon.”
If Pucovski plays, he can expect a bouncer barrage as India look to unsettle a man who has been concussed nine times already in his career. But after a neurologist on Monday gave him the all-clear from his latest head-knock, Paine said he had no concerns.
“Will’s been hit in the head a few times, but he plays the short ball really well. And as long as he’s comfortable, then we’re comfortable and so far he’s indicating that he’s good to go.”
After Australia won in Adelaide and India bounced back in Melbourne, they pad up at the Sydney Cricket Ground from Thursday for what will be a home Test for many.
Australia’s attack – Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon – are all from New South Wales, as are Warner and Steve Smith.
“We’ve got a great record here. A lot of our guys, this is their home ground so they certainly love playing here, they love being at home, they enjoy the conditions,” Paine said.
“All of our bowlers are obviously New South Welshmen, they know the wicket very well, they exploit the conditions very well and they bowl really well as a group here. We expect that won’t change. It’s the same with our batting,” he added. “Our two best batsmen, this is their home ground, this is where they do their best.”
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