Srinagar: In another major setback for the struggling Australia Test side in India, another senior pacer of the squad has been ruled out of last two Test matches of the four match test series.
Australia will miss the services of Josh Hazlewood for the remainder of the Border-Gavaskar Test series, with the right-arm quick having not yet recovered from Achilles tendonitis. Hazlewood had picked up the injury during the New Year’s Test against South Africa in Sydney last month. His unavailability at the start of the ongoing series prompted Scott Boland’s inclusion in the first Test in Nagpur, before Australia opted for a 3-1 spin-pace combination in the second Test in Delhi. He will now fly back home to continue his rehabilitation programme in Sydney.
Head coach Andrew McDonald confirmed Hazlewood’s unavailability, and expressed uncertainty over David Warner, who had sustained an elbow injury during the Delhi Test and was subsequently subbed out of the game with a concussion.
“Josh Hazlewood is out, he’ll be going home,” McDonald said on Monday, February 20.
“[Warner]’s still sore at the moment. We had a meeting just before discussing through this. We’re in no rush to make any decisions at this point in time around Davey. Just seeing how that settles, how functional that is.
“It will be basically how sore and how functional it is as to what decision we make with him and then the length of the injury. There’s some talk the length of injury could be anywhere between a week plus depending how that settles down. There’s a bit of unknown there. I’ll leave that to the medical team and they’ll inform me once they know.”
Travis Head, who top-scored in Australia’s unimpressive second innings show in Delhi with a stroke-filled 43, is primed to partner Usman Khawaja at the top in the next two Tests should Warner fail to recover.
“If Dave’s unavailable it would make perfect sense,” McDonald said. “We did discuss before coming over here that if we were to lose an opening batter that Trav would be one we’d look to put up there. We feel in the subcontinental conditions that he can get off to the fast starts which he showed.
“We don’t see [Head] as an opener in all conditions, more subcontinental and in other conditions back to the middle order.”
Meanwhile, Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc, both of whom were out of action recently with finger injuries, are expected to be fit and available for the third Test, having narrowly missed out on playing in Delhi.
“He was close,” McDonald said of Green. “It’s building the confidence. He had the setback in Bangalore, a little setback batting in Bangalore where he had some jarring and there was a fair bit of discomfort in that finger. If he didn’t have that, I think the second Test was real. But it probably just delayed it those few days. And we contemplated him as a concussion sub as well. So that was another discussion. But we felt like if he wasn’t right to go at the start then what was a couple of days. We’re better off loading up for the third Test match and in a good frame of mind.”
Skipper Pat Cummins has flown back home for family reasons, but is expected to be back in time to lead the side in the third Test, which will be played at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore from March 1.