Pat Cummins’s tourists have suffered two humiliating defeats in the first two Tests in India, culminating in a disastrous collapse in Delhi at the weekend.
- Australia is under pressure to make changes to its Test side after India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series
- Quick Josh Hazlewood will fly home to Australia due to an ongoing Achilles injury
- Pat Cummins is expected to be back for the third Test, while Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc will also be available
On top of that, they are carrying injuries and the skipper has had to come back to Australia for family reasons.
Now the team is under pressure to make changes ahead of the third Test at Holkar Stadium in Indore next week.
Australia started day three in Delhi with a 62-run lead but Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja demolished the Aussie side, spinning them out for 113 to take a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series and retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
In the aftermath of the humiliation in Delhi, head coach Andrew McDonald said it was “really disappointing” to see his batters “pretty much throw the game away in an hour” with a collapse of 9-48 on day three.
So, who’s in, who’s out and who’s in doubt as the Aussies try to salvage some pride from the ill-fated tour?
Hazlewood out, Cummins to return from family trip
Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood will take no further part in the tour and is returning home after failing to recover from an Achilles injury, the team said on Monday.
Hazlewood missed the first two Tests because of the injury, sustained in the third Test against South Africa in Sydney in January, a worrying trend for the accurate right-armer who has now played just four of Australia’s past 17 Tests.
Captain Cummins is also back in Australia due to a serious family illness but is expected to be back in time for the third Test starting in Indore on March 1.
If for some reason Cummins is unable to return, vice-captain Steve Smith will be in line to take over.
Green ready to play, Starc on the mend
Australia’s struggling batting line-up could receive a boost with the news that all-rounder Cameron Green will be available to play in Indore.
Fast bowler Mitchell Starc is also coming back from injury and could be picked if Australia opts to try to extract some pace from the slow, turning Indian wickets.
Both players have been recovering from broken fingers.
McDonald said spinner Todd Murphy, who took seven wickets on debut in Nagpur and three in Delhi, had a slight niggle in his side but was not in danger of missing the next match.
“He’ll have … a good workout two days before,” McDonald said.
“He needs a break so you won’t see him doing much work … but it looks good.”
Following his performance in India so far, Murphy has been described as a possible replacement for Nathan Lyon when he retires.
Leg spinner Mitchell Swepson may be back in India for the third Test after returning to Australia for the birth of his first child.
That allowed left-arm finger spinner and Queensland teammate Matthew Kuhnemann to make his debut, taking 2-72 in the first innings, including the wicket of Virat Kohli.
What about Warner?
Opening batter David Warner, who suffered a concussion and a fractured arm after being hit by the ball while batting in the second Test, will also be heading home.
Warner was replaced by concussion substitute Matthew Renshaw after scoring just 15 in Delhi.
It was an unhappy tour for Warner — he scored 1, 10 and 15 in his three innings.
After top-scoring with 43 off 46 balls as opener in Australia’s second innings in Delhi, Travis Head will likely keep his spot alongside Usman Khawaja.
Warner is a chance of returning to India for the ODI matches that will follows the Test series.
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Matt Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat, Ishan Kishan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat