Injury-hit India out to breach Oz’s Gabba fortress; Lyon in hunt for twin milestones - GulfToday

Injury-hit India out to breach Oz’s Gabba fortress; Lyon in hunt for twin milestones

Nathan Lyon

Nathan Lyon needs four more to become just the 16th player worldwide to take 400 Test wickets, the third Australian after Warne and Glenn McGrath. File

A depleted team India head to Australia’s seemingly impregnable Gabba fortress for Friday’s final Test, hoping to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy after sealing a magniloquent draw in Sydney to leave the series locked at 1-1.

Being led by their unassuming skipper Ajinkya Rahane in the absence of their super-star Virat Kohli, the visitors only need to avoid defeat in Brisbane after their heroics in Sydney, when they batted out the final day against Australia’s much-vaunted bowling attack.

Australia have come under fire for captain Tim Paine’s sledging and accusations that Steve Smith deliberately scuffed up batsman Rishabh Pant’s guard during the tense fifth day. Allegations of racist abuse from the crowd also overshadowed the Test.

But Australia will be optimistic of snatching a series win at the Gabba, where they are unbeaten in more than three decades, especially as India have been hit by succession of injuries.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja became the latest ruled out on Wednesday after dislocating his left thumb in Sydney, while Indian media reported that fast-bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah could miss out with an abdominal strain.

The visitors were already without experienced quicks Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, and batsman KL Rahul, while captain Virat Kohli is on paternity leave.

If Bumrah cannot play, their already inexperienced attack will be led by Mohammed Siraj, who has only played two Tests, alongside Navdeep Saini who made his debut at Sydney plus one of the uncapped T. Natarajan or Shardul Thakur.

They also have doubts over the fitness of number six batsman Hanuma Vihari, who tore his hamstring during his 161-ball vigil for 23 runs that helped earn the unlikely draw on Monday. Fellow Sydney hero Ravi Ashwin, who spent more than three hours at the crease with Vihari in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand to save the game, has a back issue.

Despite the horror injury-run, India’s former great Sunil Gavaskar believes they can win in Brisbane, where crowds will be capped at 50 percent to guard against possible coronavirus infections.

“I know that the Gabba in Brisbane is Australia’s fortress but India have the ability to take on the Australians,” he told Indian media this week.

“They (Australia) have not lost there since 1988 but there is always a first time. If Ajinkya Rahane and company do it, I won’t be surprised at all.”

Australia have their own injury worries with young opener Will Pucovski facing an anxious wait after suffering a partial dislocation of his right shoulder while fielding in Sydney.

Langer said that if Pucovski wasn’t fit, Marcus Harris would likely step in as opener alongside David Warner, who is also not 100 percent as he continues to recover from a groin strain.

LYON TARGETS 400 WICKETS IN 100TH TEST: Nathan Lyon meanwhile is eyeing twin milestones in the fourth Test at Brisbane this week -- 400 wickets in his 100th appearance -- and promised Wednesday he was “far from done”.

Ajinkya Rahane joining the likes of Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, current Australia coach Justin Langer and fellow spin king Shane Warne.

“I look at the other 12 guys who have played more than 100 Test matches of cricket for Australia and they’re pure legends,” Lyon said.

“Not just for Australia but (other 100-Test players from) all around the world, I’m going to pinch myself each and every day to see my name up against those fellows.”

“I’m pretty excited about this... just the thought of playing 100 Test matches for Australia is very humbling,” he added.

A classical off-spinner, the 33-year-old has been virtually a constant fixture since making his debut almost a decade ago and is now on the cusp of 400 wickets.

He goes into the fourth Test against India from Friday needing four more to become just the 16th player worldwide to achieve the feat, and the third Australian after Warne and Glenn McGrath.

“I’m far from being done,” Lyon said. “I’m still hungrier than ever. I want to go out there and play as much cricket for Australia as I can... win a lot of Test series for Australia.”

Lyon’s best haul was the 8-50 he took against India at Bengaluru in 2017.

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