India’s injury woes and Australia’s formidable record at Gabba will give the hosts an upper-hand in the series-deciding fourth and final Test in Brisbane, reckons former skipper Ricky Ponting.
The Indian batting unit displayed tremendous grit on Monday as it hung on for a memorable draw against Australia in the third Test to leave the series levelled at 1-1. The final Test begins on January 15.
However, the match saw star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja suffering a thumb fracture and Hanuma Vihari, who batted for 160 balls for his 23, suffer a hamstring injury. The duo will miss the last Test.
Australia too have their share of injury worries with young debutant Will Pucovski awaiting a scan result after injuring his right shoulder during the match.
“Australia will have the edge going to Brisbane,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“One, (Australia’s Gabba) record and two, if Will’s OK then they won’t have to make any changes and if Will’s not they’ll only have to make one change and they have had a pretty dominant performance in this game.
“India again are going to have a couple of injury concerns out of this game so they’ve got to find another couple of guys to bring in.”
Australia has won 33, drawn 13, tied 1 and lost 8 out of the 55 matches played at the ground.
India will have to rejig their combination if Jadeja and Vihari miss the Brisbane Test.
“If they were to play another batter, they could play that batter at five and Rishabh (Pant) stays at six and (Wriddhiman) Saha can come in at seven. That looks pretty good to me,” Ponting said.
Talking about Pucovski, the former skipper said: “The thing I’m worried about with (Pucovski), a guy playing his first Test match, not to be back out in the field at the end of the day - to me that’s a real worry.
“If you’re a young bloke and the Test match is on the line I know I would have done absolutely everything I could to get back out there. That says to me he probably couldn’t function properly and if he couldn’t function today then I would assume that he’s in serious doubt for Brisbane,” he added.
Australia were given a real scare when Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara were going strong on day five in Sydney but two quickfire wickets got the hosts back in the game. It could have been a much different scenario for the hosts going into the last Test had Hanuma Vihari not injured his hamstring and was able to run between the wickets.
India may have held on for a draw in the end, but Australia could consider them lucky for the kind of injuries India suffered in Sydney.
(With PTI inputs)