Mitchell Starc will link up with the Australian squad in Delhi ahead of the second Test
Mitchell Starc appears the most likely of Australia’s missing trio from the first Test to return in Delhi, but captain Pat Cummins insists wholesale changes are not required after their trouncing in the Border Gavaskar Trophy series opener.
Allrounder Cameron Green is still a “wait and see” while Josh Hazlewood appears certain to miss again as the Aussies consider how to reconfigure their side for a match they must win if they hope to clinch a series in India for the first time in almost two decades.
But Cummins insisted not “much is going to change the next couple of games”, suggesting the visitors will keep faith with their misfiring top-order.
Starc, whose recovery from a serious finger injury has progressed well, will link up with the squad in the Indian capital and could give the visitors’ attack some added penetration after it relied heavily on debutant Todd Murphy to make regular breakthroughs in Nagpur.
An added bonus of the left-armer being back would be the footmarks he can create for Australia’s two off-spinners, Nathan Lyon and Murphy, who now look set to be given the chance to develop their partnership further in this series.
But it would be a tough call to recall Starc at Scott Boland’s expense after the Victorian performed his holding role with aplomb during India’s batting innings, sending down his first 11 overs for only 10 runs.
Like Starc, Green could also solve multiple problems; firstly, as a first-choice middle-order batter to replace either Peter Handscomb or Matthew Renshaw (who were respectively playing their first and second Tests back after long absences), and secondly as a fifth bowling option to lighten the load on the front-liners.
Both Green and Hazlewood had long bowls on Saturday morning on a centre wicket at the VCA Stadium a few hours before Australia’s batting implosion, while the former has also shown encouraging signs with the bat in the nets.
But Cummins said it was too early to declare the allrounder ready.
“Starcy lands today or tomorrow into Delhi,” Australia’s skipper told reporters after the innings-and-132-run loss.
“I think Joshy might not be quite ready for Delhi. He’s getting up and running now, he’s pretty close, but I don’t think he’ll be quite ready for Delhi.