India vs. Australia: Third Test Preview
February 28, 2023
The scene of the Border-Gavaskar series shifts to Holkar Stadium in Indore for the third Test Wednesday afternoon with hosts India looking to snatch a series-clinching 3-0 lead less than two weeks after retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Delhi.
The Australians have been dealt a number of blows with veteran opener David Warner ruled out for the remainder of the series after suffering a hairline fracture in his right elbow in Delhi whilst skipper Pat Cummins has flown home to be with his ill mother.
Spin option Ashton Agar has also returned to Australia to play domestic cricket after being overlooked for the opening two Test matches along with veteran quick Josh Hazlewood who is battling an achilles issue.
On a more positive note, injured stars Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green have both declared their intent to return to the side in Indore in what shapes as a much-needed boost for the faltering Australians.
With Warner injured, Travis Head is expected to open the batting alongside Usman Khawaja, as he did in the second innings in Delhi.
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Head top-scored for Australia in his maiden innings as a Test opener hitting 43 off 46 before falling victim to Ravichandran Ashwin.
The 29-year-old has had success as an opener in one-day cricket having averaged 51.28 in 18 innings with six fifties and three hundreds.
Marnus Labuschagne – the only other Australian to reach double-figures in their second innings in Delhi – will again bat at three with stand-in captain Steve Smith at four.
Peter Handscomb is expected to retain his spot at five after hitting an unbeaten 72 off 196 balls in the first innings in Delhi.
Green will slot it at six with wicketkeeper Alex Carey at seven.
Australia elected to go with a trio of spinners – Nathan Lyon, Toddy Murphy, and debutant Matthew Kuhnemann – in Delhi and look set to deploy the same combination in Indore.
Starc is set to replace Cummins as the lone out-and-out quick with Green offering a second pace option that was not available in their last outing.
For India, vice-captain K.L. Rahul is under pressure to retain his spot at the top of the order as he struggles through an extended slump.
He has made more than 25 in just one of his past 12 innings.
There have been calls for 23-year-old ace Shubman Gill – who has smashed four centuries from his past seven ODI innings including a decisive 208 against New Zealand in Hyderabad – to replace the veteran opener.
He has scored 736 runs in 13 Test matches at 32.00 with one century and four fifties.
Aside from the Rahul-Gill question, India’s side is understandably far more settled.
India are again short-priced favourites among the bookmakers with the visitors having been unable to find ways to combat the likes of Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja whose spin has torn through the Australian batters repeatedly.