Fitness has been a major issue for India notwithstanding their impressive performances thus far in the tour having taken the series to the final Test at the Gabba with a 1-1 scoreline.
While Mohammad Shami (arm) was sidelined after the first Test, Umesh Yadav's (calf) tour came to an end after the second game. In between the second and third Tests, KL Rahul (wrist) had to head back home after being injured in the nets. The third Test came with its fair share of injuries even as Rishabh Pant (elbow), Hanuma Vihari (hamstring) and R Ashwin (back) battled it out for an epic draw. In the same Test, the injury that Ravindra Jadeja (thumb) picked up ended his Australia sojourn.
Heading into the final Test, India aren't sure about their playing eleven yet. Vihari and Ashwin may not feature while India's key bowler Jasprit Bumrah (abdominal strain) is also unlikely to start, although batting coach Vikram Rathour insists that's a call that will be taken on the morning of the Brisbane Test. To add to India's worries, Mayank Agarwal took a hit on his hand while batting in the nets in Sydney and looked in some discomfort.
"(The) medical team is working with Bumrah. We'll have to wait till tomorrow morning to see how he pulls up. If he can play, great and if he can't, we'll deal with it. There's still a lot of injury concerns, they're still being monitored. All these questions can be answered only tomorrow morning," said Rathour, unwilling to comment on the possible line-up for the series decider.
Unlike the previous Tests in the series, where India announced their XI the day before the matches, they are yet to zero in on the playing combination. But Rathour stressed that immaterial of who plays, all the players in the set-up are prepared and that India will go in with their 'best XI' for the game.
"Toughness comes from the preparation. The boys have been working hard, they have a lot of belief in their abilities. Even after the Sydney Test, the coaching staff kept telling the players to keep preparing. They've shown character to come back in this tour. I don't believe in momentum. After 36 all out, to come back and win the next game - that tells about momentum. We'll put up the best XI on the ground, all of them deserve to be there. We are backing our processes and players. If we play to our potential, we'll do well," Rathour said.
Meanwhile, Rathour came to the defence of Prithvi Shaw and Mayank, who haven't had the best of tours and eventually had to be left out of the playing XI.
"Anything can be rectified. Also depends on how much importance we give to technique in international cricket. Technique is important, but it's about your decision making, your character, it's about all these things combined. The boys are committed, everyone will have some good and bad tours. The boys are doing hardwork and they'll perform better," he said.
As far as the strict lockdowns that are in place, restricting the movement of the players, and the lack of facilities, Rathour isn't too concerned. "We are playing Australia in Australia against one of the better attacks in the world. You don't need housekeeping or room service to motivate yourself. Of course, these were the concerns, which were passed on to the BCCI, and the BCCI is in touch with Cricket Australia and is trying to deal with all these things. As far as the team is concerned, as far as the team management is concerned, we are focused on the game. All the boys are looking forward to this game."
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