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Team India’s Strongest XI for the 4th Test against Australia

Thanks to a fantastic display of resilience by Team India, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is set to have a fitting climax with the series poised evenly at 1-1. The Aussie bowlers had 131 overs to bowl out Team India on a pitch that seemed to be two-paced. However, led by the resolute defence of Cheteshwar Pujara and blistering innings of Rishabh Pant, team India had an outside chance of pulling off an improbable win at the SCG.

Once both of them were dismissed, Australia sniffed another batting collapse. Hanuma Vihari injured his hamstring while running and Ravindra Jadeja had a dislocated thumb. But, both Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin showed incredible defensive prowess as they played out 256 balls to hand Team India a famous draw.

Although Team India will have a lot of confidence from their SCG performance, their injury woes are increasing with the latest one being Jasprit Bumrah, who was their pace spearhead. Australia has not lost at the GABBA in Brisbane since 1988. What XI should a depleted Team India go with based on Australia’s track record in Brisbane and the conditions? Let’s find out:

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Openers – Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill

Team India finally seemed to have found their ideal opening combination in Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. Indian team management backed Gill ahead of Mayank Agarwal in the third Test, and he repaid the faith with a fine half-century.

Both Rohit and Gill added 70 and 71 in the first two innings respectively. The duo didn’t look fazed by the Aussie bowling attack and negotiated the new ball comfortably. Thus, team, India should stick to these two at the top of the order.

Middle-Order and wicket-keeper – Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Mayank Agarwal

Cheteshwar Pujara proved yet again why is so valuable to this Indian Test team, as he faced 381 balls in total at the SCG and wore down the Australian bowling attack, scoring two half-centuries. Ajinkya Rahane has a quiet SCG Test after showing a lot of promise I’m Boxing Day Test. However, a captain’s knock beckons at the GABBA to help his team achieve a historic series win.

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Rishabh Pant’s blistering 97 proved why is regarded as one of the most talented batsmen in India. If he realises his potential, he would be an absolute asset. He will also be the Wicketkeeper in the side, playing ahead of Wriddhiman Saha
With Hanuma Vihari injured, Mayank Agarwal is likely to replace him. Agarwal is generally an opener and thus he will have a good technique to counter the second new ball. But he has been in poor form of late and will have to turn it around if he wants to make a claim for his spot in the team.

All-rounder – Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin was on top of Australia’s best batsmen Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne for the first two tests. However, the duo found a way to counter his threat at the SCG. It will be interesting to see how Ashwin performs and makes a comeback at the Gabba.

With Ravindra Jadeja ruled out, Ashwin’s contribution with the bat will be that much more crucial. He showed in his innings of 39 that he has a right defensive game. But it will be intriguing to know how he will contribute with the bat.

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Bowlers – Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan, Mohammed Siraj

Kuldeep Yadav has good memories of Australia since he had picked up a five-wicket haul in the last Test at SCG in 2018-19. With Jadeja out, Kuldeep will play a crucial role as India’s second spinner.

Shardul Thakur played just the one Test for India before this and that too he bowled only 10 balls and hobbled off the field. It will be interesting to see how much purchase he gets at the Gabba given his ability to swing the ball. T Natarajan had picked up eight wickets in his first four international games and has gone off to a great start to his career. However, he has not been tested in red-ball cricket and thus will be an unknown commodity.

Mohammed Siraj had an impressive debut at the MCG. But he looked flat at SCG and also faced racial abuse. It will be interesting to see if he is motivated by all this to perform better.

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