Brisbane [Australia], January 14 (ANI): Bundled out for 36 in the first Test in Adelaide, not many gave India a chance to even compete with the Australians in the remaining three Tests, let alone win a game in the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli. But the boys showed great character under stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane and the series stands level at 1-1 with the final game set to be played at The Gabba from Friday.
Predictions were made that the team would be drubbed 4-0, but what has transpired in the last two Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Sydney Cricket Ground has shown that this Indian line-up loves a challenge.
After winning in Melbourne by eight wickets, the battered and bruised Indian line-up batted out the final day of the third Test to walk away with one of the most famous draws in Test history and now both India and Australia will head into the final Test with everything to play for.
A major boost for the Indian team is that pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah is still in contention for a place in the XI for the game. He is currently working with the medical team and a final call will be taken on Friday morning revealed batting coach Vikram Rathour during the post-match press conference.
But the visiting camp is hampered by injures and in the fourth Test, there are further changes that need to be made. In the third Test, Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari got injured and the duo will sit out the fourth Test. Now, it would be interesting to see who the team management decides to bring in for these players.
The bigger task awaiting India is rewriting the record books. If India has to win at The Gabba, they have to break a 33-year-old record held by the hosts. Australia last lost a Test at the fortress in 1988 against the West Indies. Since then, it has been all Australia. But the pitch is expected to offer assistance to the quick bowlers and this might just work in India's favour as the batting of the hosts relies heavily on Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne.
Australia's opening batsman Will Pucovski has already been out ruled out of the fourth and final Test, and Marcus Harris would be replacing him. This is the third opening pair that the hosts would try out in this four-match series.
When one talks about Indian batting, it looks a bit better now as openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill were able to provide good starts to the visitors in the third Test. Both batsmen have made batting look easy and in the fourth Test, Rahane and boys would be heavily dependent on the opening duo.
With the fight shown in the third Test, the batsmen must be high on confidence and Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahane would control the middle order, and if the side manages to post a total of around 350, then the bowling outfit can very much make a match out of it.
If the fourth Test at Gabba ends in a draw, then India will retain the Border Gavaskar Trophy as the side had won the series last time around.
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
India Test squad: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Thangarasu Natarajan. (ANI)