03 January, 2019
India's unwavering pursuit of history hit a minor glitch in 11th hour injury concerns but Virat Kohli's men will still walk in as overwhelming favourites against a faltering Australia in the fourth and final Test starting on Thursday.
Virat Kohli, thus, is in a unique position as the only Indian captain to go into the final Test on the Australian soil with the cushion of a series lead.
"Well, it's unfortunate that Ashwin has had two niggles quite similar in the last couple of away tours (England and now Australia)".
Let's have a look at the predicted playing XI of both teams..
"He's very important for sure".
Tim Paine insisted on Wednesday that his priority was to develop his inexperienced cricket team for the future even as they face the prospect of losing a home series against India for the first time.
In a odd u-turn, after he was ruled out at the time of Kohli's pre-match press conference, Ashwin was named in the 13-man shortlist for this fourth Test.
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The SCG will be bathed in pink in support of Glenn McGrath's Cancer Foundation as the two teams will step out for the last Test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy, which regardless of the result of this match will remain with India. "He is very disappointed that he's not able to recover in time", Kohli elaborated.
But he pledged that Australia would still pick the "best XI that we think is the best combination to win this Test" once they had seen the Sydney pitch. That means the best an unsettled Australia lineup can do is draw the four-match contest by winning in Sydney. If anyone looked doubtful for selection during India's training session it was Shami, who arrived at the ground on a hot summer's Sydney day in a jacket and flip-flops and did not take part in any of the drills performed.
And, being in Australia helped him reach his dream of bowling against top batsmen from India.
It's likely there'll be a reshuffle of the faltering top order, with Usman Khawaja tipped to move up to open the innings, and Marnus Labuschagne a contender for a call up as a backup spinning option on a wicket expected to favor spin as it deteriorates.
India have named two left-arm spinners - chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav and the orthodox Ravindra Jadeja in the final 13.
Australia (from): Tim Paine (captain), Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Aaron Finch, Marnus Labuschagne, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Handscomb, Mitch Marsh, Peter Siddle.