Australia could prioritize sewing ahead of rotation in the third Test, with Scott Boland reportedly in a recall against India in Indore.
Both Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc should be fit to return for David Warner and Pat Cummins alongside Nathan Lyon in the bowling attack.
There’s every chance Todd Murphy or Matt Kuhnemann will miss out on a spot in the XI, with cricket.com.au’s Louis Cameron claiming Boland is back in the mix.
Cameron reported that Boland was spotted having a “long preparation routine at a central wicket adjacent to the pitch being prepared for the third Test”.
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Lance Morris is another option, but Morris has reported bowling in the net towards Green, suggesting Boland is the most likely candidate to come in.
Steve Smith said the pitch was “pretty dry on both sides”. Australia expect him to spin, but there are doubts whether he will pay spinning dividends from the first two Tests.
Former Australian fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz called on Australia to consider an extra fast bowler rather than a third spinner earlier in the week.
“I don’t mind – and I’m going on a limb here I guess – not facing India in the spin department,” Kasprowicz said on SENQ breakfast.
“We don’t need three spinners, if it’s Murphy or Kunhemann (with Lyon), I think Boland will be in there.
“The reason he’s going to build up pressure on one side, so on the other side – as we saw in that first test with Murphy – he was able to take wickets at the because they weren’t scoring ( off Boland).
“We have to try to do something else.”
An already understaffed Australia will be bolstered by the returns of Starc and Green, although the former admitted earlier in the week that he would be playing out of “uncomfortable”.
Starc’s finger is still not 100% after sustaining a serious tendon injury in the Boxing Day test as Green struggled with a broken index finger.
Speaking on Wednesday morning before opening day action, Michael Clarke said it was a “risk” to go into the third Test with clouds of injury hanging over Starc and Green.
“My first reaction is that it’s great, but then I think about it more and there’s a lot of risk involved with that,” Clarke said on Sky Sports Radio “The great sports breakfast”.
“Taking two injured bowlers into a test match to be the only two fast. Looking at the wicket as well, it looks a lot like what they played on, so I think they will definitely pick three spinners.
“We only had Pat Cummins and I know he had a lot to do, but I think he underused himself in that last test match. You look at what India did, they had two quick openers from bowling and took quick wickets up front and then put their spinners in the game.
“I just hope Starc and Green get through this. If Australia loses the toss and India beats first… I just hope they’re ready.
‘WHAT AM I DOING?’: SMITH KEEN TO TURN AUTOR FORM
Steve Smith himself confirmed earlier this week that he was battling a degenerative back condition, after saying he was frustrated with his performance in India.
Smith will lead Australia in the third Test after regular captain Pat Cummins left to join his ailing mother after the team’s second successive loss.
India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-0 lead in the four Test series.
Smith had just 71 runs in four innings this series.
He fell lbw for nine in his last outing after a missed sweep, sparking an Aussie meltdown in which eight wickets fell for 28 runs in New Delhi.
“I don’t think there’s been too many times where I’ve walked off the field and been like ‘what the hell am I doing?'” Smith told reporters.
“I was quite angry. There haven’t been too many times in my career where I’ve really stood out and been blown away by what I’ve done. It wasn’t my best moment.
Smith hopes his leadership can bring about a turnaround.
“That normally brings out the best in me,” he said of the captaincy.
“I’m delighted to be leading this week in Pat’s absence.
“I know these conditions well. It’s kind of like my second home playing here, I’ve played a lot in India, I understand the intricacies of the game and what the wickets are likely to do. I can not wait to be there.
Smith said the team have yet to finalize their XI, but Green’s return to the mix gives Australia the opportunity for three spinners on another expected turner.
“What it looked like today is quite similar to what we’ve seen throughout the series so far,” Smith said of the Indore pitch.
“We now have a few more options with the return of Green and (Mitchell) Starc. This gives us some flexibility to see which direction we want to go.
DOOR LEFT OPEN TO INDIA TO FREE YOUNG GUN
Meanwhile, India skipper Rohit Sharma played down KL Rahul’s removal from vice-captaincy on Tuesday but left the door open for a team change for the third Test.
There have been calls from pundits and former cricketers to bring in 23-year-old fly-half Shubman Gill in place of Rahul, who scored 38 runs in three innings of the series.
Rahul, a 47 Test veteran, was Rohit’s assistant in the first two Tests but that role was stripped from him for the last two games.
“When we talk about players going through a tough time, anyone with potential will have enough time to prove themselves,” Rohit told reporters.
Rohit added: “His removal from vice-captaincy says nothing as far as Gill and KL are concerned. All 17-18 (in the team) are in the calculation. We haven’t finalized our XI yet. I prefer to announce it at the draw.
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