As India hosts Australia in an anticipated Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Australia vice-captain Steve Smith felt all-rounder Cameron Green is unlikely to play in the opening Test since he has not faced fast bowling in the nets. The first Test between India and Australia will be played at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur from Thursday.
Green had sustained the injury after he was hit by speedster Anrich Nortje during the second Test against South Africa in Melbourne in December. He battled through the pain to score a fighting 51*, backing up a first-innings five-for but was sidelined for the following Test in Sydney. Green did not bat during Australia’s first practice session at Nagpur’s Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium.
Ahead of the first Test against India, Australia vice-captain said that the team will have to wait for the decision on Green’s inclusion in the playing XI, though it’s unlikely that he will be able to play. “I don’t think he is [going to play]. I don’t think he’s even faced fast bowlers yet. So I dare say he won’t be playing but who knows. I’m not entirely sure. We’ll wait and see,” Steve Smith said in a pre-match conference in Nagpur
Border-Gavaskar Trophy: Steve Smith, David Warner take look of Nagpur pitch ahead of first Test against India (newsd.in)
“But it’s unlikely, I think,” he added. This means Australia will select a specialist batter at No. 6 and only four bowlers for the first Test.
With the surface looking extremely dry two days before the start of the Test, Australia appears set to play two spinners and two quicks. “It’s pretty dry. Particularly one end that I think will take a bit of spin, particularly the left-arm spinner spinning it back into our left-handers. There’s a section there that’s quite dry. Other than that, I can’t really get a good gauge on it,” Smith said.
“I don’t think there will be a heap of bounce in the wicket. I think for the seamers it will be quite skiddy and maybe a bit of up-and-down movement as the game goes on. The cracks felt quite loose. We’ll wait and see when we get out there,” he added. Scott Boland is a foregone conclusion to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood. Lance Morris is the only other quick available, but he only bowled some centre-wicket in Nagpur with Green.
However, the absence of Green, who bowled in the middle of the VCA Ground on Tuesday as part of his recovery from finger surgery, would make it difficult to follow suit. “Possibly,” Smith said of the prospect of partnering Nathan Lyon with two of Agar, Todd Murphy and Mitchell Swepson. “If Greeny was fit, it would be definitely more of an option.
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“Without him I’m not entirely sure. We’ve got a strategy meeting this arvo where we’ll talk about what we think. Ultimately it’s down to the selectors to pick the team they think is best for the surface,” said the Australia vice-captain. Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson and David Warner.
India squad: (for the first two Tests) 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, Jaydev Unadkat and Suryakumar Yadav.