The stage is set for the final showdown as India and Australia gear up for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy virtual final at Dharamshala. The series has been jam packed with controversies piling over each other. It’s time to shift your focus back on cricket as both the teams get ready for an epic clash. If Australia succeeds in beating India, they will be the first ones to beat India in this season. India would be looking to extend their lead even if Virat Kohli does not play due to his shoulder injury.
India’s unbeaten series run is at stake as they go up against the Steven Smith-led Australian side at Dharamshala. As far as the speculations are considered India will be going into the decider with Ajinkya Rahane as their captain. Although India needed the aggression of Kohli going into a Test as crucial as this one but the shoulder injury keeps the skipper at bay.
Australian side too tried to connect with their spiritual side as on March 24 they went to see Dalai Lama seeking help from him. Skipper Smith shared his concern over lack of sleep, rubbed his nose with Dalai Lama a day before the last game of their tour.
However, there are many concerns for both the teams, let’s have a look at a few of them-
Kohli’s shoulder injury and availability
Kohli fans would not like the answer to this question as the skipper has only a slight chance of making it into the field for Dharamshala Test. His shoulder injury he encountered on Day 1 of Ranchi Test has been haunting him since. It seems like the physio has still not advised him to play. Though, he will have to pass the fitness Test in order to play for the fourth Test as he revealed in a press conference on March 24.
Who will captain India in Kohli’s absence?
Ajinkya Rahane is the automatic choice if Kohli sits this one out due to injury. Rahane’s captaincy was given mixed responses as Kapil Dev and Aakash Chopra considered him too defensive. Rahane can be given a benefit of doubt as he was given the responsibility team all of a sudden. This time around he will be ready with the strategies beforehand. A few players lauded him for his captaincy on Day 2 for wrapping up Australia’s innings quite early.
A few players lauded him for his captaincy on Day 2 for wrapping up Australia’s innings quite early. Rahane is nowhere near Kohli when it comes to aggressiveness and it will be interesting to see him captain the side in a crucial Test like this. Rahane would have to be more responsible with the bat too, he played an unnecessary uppercut to get out at Ranchi which is not expected from a batsman as dependable like him.
Will Shreyas Iyer make his Test debut?
Iyer made headlines when he rescued India A against Australia in a warm-up game before the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He played an aggressive innings surviving the sledges of the Australians and attacking the bowlers, hitting them for fours and sixes all over the park. With Kohli uncertain of playing in the fourth Test Iyer might get a nod only if India does not opt to got with 6 batsmen, 5 bowlers rule. One more permutation and combination is if they drop Karun Nair and give Iyer a chance
Will fast bowlers Bhuvnehswar Kumar, Mohammad Shami or Hardik Pandya get a chance?
Dharamshala pitch is expected to help the fast bowlers with the ball swinging in the air. With Kohli hinting 6 batsmen and four bowlers strategy, there is a chance of Shami playing only if he is fit. On the other hand, everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that Bhuvneshwar too can swing the ball both ways.
There is an outside chance for all-rounder Pandya as well as he can contribute both with the bat and ball. His performance against Australia in the warm-up game was not extraordinary but there is a slim chance that he might feature in the side for Dharamshala Test.
Will Australia replace Steve O’Keefe with Jackson Bird?
There is no chance that Glenn Maxwell sits out Dharamshala Test after scoring a century at Ranchi. That’s why Australia are inclined to give their Pune Test hero O’Keefe rest for the last Test to include Bird. The Australian fast bowler has done reasonably well in the domestic circuit. It will be a tough pick for Australia whether to give Bird a chance or stick with O’Keefe only.
Australia to play for money!
Australia are currently on the second spot and if they win the fourth Test they will retain their second position in ICC Test Rankings irrespective of the result between South Africa and New Zealand starting March 25 as well. Half a million US dollars are at stake as Australia will be looking to make it April 1 cut-off of ICC and qualify for the prize money. On the other hand, India are standing pretty on No.1 in rankings, ready to recieve a million US dollars.
There is no denying that the whole cricketing world will have their eyes on Dharamshala Test as it will decide the fate of the Test series that has attracted so many eyeballs around the globe.
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