The opener, who made a half-century on debut at the SCG, has been sidelined with a shoulder injury
Pucovski landed heavily in the field when diving to make a save on the final day and later went for scans, which coach Justin Langer revealed yesterday he was already due to have to check on another issue.
He travelled to Brisbane with the rest of the squad but did not train in the two days leading up to the Test.
For Harris, who has been preferred ahead of shifting Matthew Wade back to open, it will be his first Test since the 2019 Ashes when he came in midway through the series as a replacement for Cameron Bancroft but made just 58 runs in six innings.
Harris wasn’t part of the original Test squad but was added following the injuries to Pucovski (concussion) and David Warner (groin) which ruled the pair out of the opening two matches. He was then retained when Joe Burns was dropped after the second Test in Melbourne.
Harris was Pucovski’s opening partner for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield earlier this season and the pair shared a record-breaking stand of 486 against South Africa with Harris making 239. He followed that with scores of 71 and 45 against West Australia then made 35, 25 not out, 26 and 5 for Australia A in the two warm-up matches.
Pucovski’s shoulder injury is another tough blow for the 22-year-old who was finally able to make his much-anticipated Test debut at the SCG and hit a composed 62 in the first innings.
It also means that Australia will have used five opening batsmen during the four-match series against India. Burns and Wade were paired together for the opening two matches before Warner and Pucovski joined forces in Sydney.
Australia vs India, 4th Test, Fantasy Pick, team predictions
Fantasy suggestions for the Brisbane Test between Australia and India
Jan 15: Australia vs India, 4th Test, Brisbane
Pro Tip: Since 2018, in Australia, Gabba has been the best place for pacers, who have struck at 21.69. In contrast, spinners had the poorest returns in that period, averaging 52 (minimum five innings). So, pick players accordingly.
Our XI: Rishabh Pant, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, David Warner, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschange, R Ashwin, Pat Cummins, T Natarajan, Mohammed Siraj, Josh Hazlewood
Substitutes: Ajinkya Rahane, Chesteshwar Pujara, Cameron Green, Mitchell Starc.
Player availability: India – Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Hanuma Vihari, R Ashwin and Rishabh Pant have all been injured in the Sydney game and their participation will be in doubt for this game. T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur, Mayank Agarwal, Kuldeep Yadav and Wriddhiman Saha are all in contention.
Australia – Will Pucovski is injured after dislocating his shoulder while fielding in the last game and Marcus Harris has come in.
We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.
Captain: Marnus Labuschagne
Labuschagne has scored 1542 runs in 12 games at an average of 73.42 in the World Test Championship, well ahead of the rest of the pack – 292 runs ahead of Steven Smith, the next highest run accumulator in the same number of games. He is also the highest run-scorer in the ongoing series with 293 runs in three games but he is yet to score a century and this might be the game to do it. His two previous Test scores at his home ground are 185 and 81.
Vice-captain: Shubman Gill
The latest Indian batsman to make his Test debut absolutely looked like he belonged at this level so far with some eye-catching knocks. His scores in this series are 45, 35*, 50 and 31 and he is due for a big hundred. Multi-day format has always been his favourite as suggested by his stunning First-Class average of 67.52 after playing 25 matches.
Steven Smith: After a poor couple of games in the series, Steve Smith showed why he is the number two ranked batsman in Test cricket in the last game by putting in a man of the match performance with scores of 131 and 81. In the six games he played at Gabba, he has scored 579 runs with three 100-plus scores.
R Ashwin: India’s leading wicket-taker in this series with 12 scalps in three games at an average of 28.83 has been in spectacular form and doubling the wickets tally when compared with his counterpart spinner Nathan Lyon (six wickets). Gabba has not been very kind to spinners recently but given his form, he is a definite pick in your XI. Don’t forget his contribution with the bat too.
Pat Cummins: The highest wicket-taker in this series with 15 wickets at a stunning average of 18.13 is also the second-highest wicket-taker in Tests since the start of 2019 with 78 wickets in 16 games. He simply loves bowling at the Gabba picking up a staggering 19 wickets in three games at an average of 15.73. He is also the number one ranked Test bowler in the world currently.
Rishabh Pant: Rishabh Pant simply loves playing in Australia. He holds the unique record of being the only player to score 25 or more runs in nine consecutive innings in Australia. In Australia, he has scored 512 runs in six games and his average of 56.88 here is the best for any Indian player who has played four minimum Tests. He gives you additional points if he gets to be the designated wicket-keeper.
Rohit Sharma: ohit Sharma came back into the side in the last game and showed signs of his good form with scores of 26 and 52. With the absence of key Indian players, expect him to step up and score big irrespective of his batting position.
- One of T Natarajan or Shardul Thakur can be picked depending on the playing 11.
- Ajinkya Rahane can replace one of the Indian pacers, if you need an extra batting option.
BBL 2020-21 – Marcus Stoinis tries to avoid thoughts of cricket’s ‘daunting’ hub life
Melbourne Stars will finally get a chance to play at home as they try to ignite their BBL campaign
Living in the present and not looking too far ahead is the key to navigating the never-ending hubs professional cricketers are facing during the Covid pandemic, according to Melbourne Stars pair Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa.
The relationship between Stoinis and Zampa was a quirky feature of The Test, an eight-part documentary series aired last year on the Australian cricket team’s journey through the 2019 World Cup and Ashes. The pair would meet in Zampa’s room every morning in England, which was dubbed the Love Café, for a hand-made coffee.
As amusing as it was, it is little things like this that have kept the trio sane in this new post-Covid cricket climate.
All three have spent half the year on the road playing in various hubs around the world with different restrictions imposed in different places. Haris Rauf said his 14-day quarantine in New Zealand with Pakistan was “very hard” while the Australian pair endured the same thing on the return from the IPL in the UAE, having previously been in a bio-secure bubble in England dating back to August.
Stoinis and Zampa were able to pinch a week at home with their respective families prior to Christmas but tighter restrictions on the BBL teams since then and a looming T20I tour of New Zealand, featuring another 14-day quarantine looms on the horizon for two of Australia’s first-choice T20 players.
Stoinis said the key to navigating the endless hubs was staying in the present.
“For me personally, I do get in trouble when I do think too far ahead,” he said. “To think forward, which I’m saying we don’t really like to do but you go Big Bash, then you go there’s a New Zealand tour, there’s a South African Test tour, before you know it, you’re back to IPL. And then who knows from there, there’s the Hundred, the Caribbean Premier League, there are all these things so this could easily turn into another hub until next August, which is eight months away from now.
“It can get a bit daunting when you think of it like that. At the moment, I’m just enjoying the little things, enjoying being back at Melbourne, looking forward to playing in front of 15,000 here [at the MCG], looking forward to winning games with the Stars. It sounds cliché but I think that’s all you can do.
“We realise how lucky we are. It’s definitely not a poor me situation. It’s life and you’re lucky you’ve got good friends with you that make it enjoyable.”
The Stars’ indifferent form is only adding the angst. The finalists from each of the last two seasons have lost five of their past six matches and sit second-last on the table after playing their first nine games on the road.
“Cricket is a testing game as it is and then you add the hub, then you add losing games of cricket, you walk up the next morning and you dwell a little bit,” Zampa said.
Zampa can hardly be blamed for the Stars’ malaise. He has been masterful with the ball this season taking 12 wickets at a stunning economy rate of 7.11. That is even more impressive given the difficulty of the overs he has been bowling. Against the Strikers he was claimed 2 for 20 from four, bowling the first over, the 10th when defending just seven runs for the Bash Boost which he did successfully, the 15th over in the Power Surge and the 17th.
“I do really enjoy it, ” Zampa said. “Obviously it’s really nice that Maxy [Glenn Maxwell] backs me in to bowl those overs. So when I’m at the crease I feel really confident to get the job done but tactically, not too much changes. I try and keep things really simple. But I love competition, I love being competitive and I love bowling those overs.”
While Zampa has thrived with the new rules, Stoinis is still trying to work how best to utilise them. He hasn’t reached the heights of last season with the bat but has been a solid contributor. He has been caught betwixt and between as to how to attack the shorter Powerplay at the start while trying to bat deep into the innings and use the Power Surge.
“I’ve been struggling with how I want to go about that in my own head,” Stoinis said. “Even sometimes I’ve forgotten that we’ve got the two overs left in the back 10. An example of that is probably the last game where I was in at the 10th or 11th over and that could have been an option for me to do. But I’m just in my own zone and going at it. There’s still a few tactics that personally I can iron out that will help myself and the team. And the sooner I can do that, the better for the team.”
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
Live Report – Australia vs India, 4th Test, Brisbane, 2nd day | Cricket
Welcome to our live report of the second day of the Australia-India Test from Brisbane. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
9.55 am: No word yet on Saini
Navdeep Saini hobbled off the field with a groin issue after bowling just 7.5 overs yesterday. The last official word we heard was he had gone for scans. It seems unlikely he’ll bowl today.
9.45 am: Labuschagne rides his luck
Luck has gone Marnus Labuschagne’s way right through this series, and it continued yesterday when Ajinkya Rahane put down a sitter off him at gully, when Australia were 87 for 3. But he batted beautifully to cash in on that fortune, as Dan Brettig observes here.
As a compulsive tinkerer and planner, Labuschagne enjoyed the need to make plans more spontaneously against a less familiar attack, and also on a Brisbane pitch quite unlike any he has seen before.
“Definitely today I had to formulate some plans on the run and keep understanding the situation of what they were doing and I think that’s the part of the game that is really enjoyable, you’ve got to read the situation out there,” he said. “You can look at stuff on a screen and see guys bowl, but only you know out there with the feel of how you can do things and what you can do differently to make life easier out there.”
I particularly enjoyed how he handled Washington Sundar’s leg-stump attack, picking off anything remotely short by rocking back, exposing all his stumps, and punching through the sparsely populated off side.
9.35 am: Can Australia drive home their advantage?
Morning, everyone. Australia are 274 for 5 overnight, and are most likely the happier dressing room at the Gabba. But considering the inexperience running through their injury-ravaged bowling attack, India will be pleased they aren’t entirely out of it yet. Cameron Green and Tim Paine have put on 61, however, and the fate of this Test match may well last in how far Australia’s sixth-wicket pair can extend their partnership.
“With this attack, which was soon reduced to a total experience of three caps, to come out with the scoreboard showing 274 for 5 after losing the toss is a reasonable return”
Sid Monga writes on Day 1 at Brisbane #AUSvIND
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 15, 2021
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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