Windies batsman, Andre Fletcher, has pointed to a call from legendary batsman Brian Lara as pivotal in helping to turn around his form in this season’s Big Bash League (BBL).

On Thursday, Fletcher smashed a brutal 89 for just 49 balls to underpin the Melbourne Stars massive 111 run win over Adelaide Strikers.  The knock was timely for Fletcher as he had not passed 18 in his first nine BBL encounters.

The 33-year-old had previously also performed below expectations in a low-scoring Caribbean Premier League (CPL), where he scored 211 from 12 games despite his team St Lucia Zouks making it to the final.  As it turns out, it was a call from the legendary West Indian batsman, who is on commentary duty at the BBL, which proved critical in helping Fletcher turn around that recent run of bad form.

"He called me, and I was surprised, to be honest," Fletcher said following his explosive performance.

"He was telling me that, looking from the outside, I've been striking the ball cleanly and he just told me to give myself that opportunity. Giving myself that chance and playing each ball on its merits,” he added.

"I'm an aggressive player so there's no need to go out there and look to [over] power the ball. To be honest, that's what I did today.

"I've met him before. He's a great guy. I told him over the phone, after what he told me I was like, 'So Brian, now I understand the reason you were so great'.

"He told me, feel free to call him any time I wish to, he's there, he's open for anything and willing to give me advice."

Former West Indies fast bowler, Tony Gray, believes it is a mistake for selectors to get caught up with selecting teams based on conditions.

Recently, Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors Roger Harper set off a firestorm with an explanation that promising fast bowler Chemar Holder had been left out of the Test squad for the Bangladesh tour, in order to include an extra spinner to exploit conditions.

For some, the decision was all the more vexing considering the absence of Jason Holder, who was typically part and parcel of a four-prong pace bowling attack, and Chemar Holder’s promising debut in New Zealand where he took two wickets in trying circumstances.

For his part, in addition to pointing out that Bangladesh were exceptional at handling spin, Gray pointed to the fact that a multitude of pace bowlers had done well on Asian pitches for several decades.

“I think that they (selectors) are fixated on the conditions, you cannot be fixated on the conditions,” Gray told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I played my first Test series in Pakistan and I got 14 wickets in three games.  You want the mindset to be there.  If you are telling a young fast bowler, for example, who can bowl some 90 miles an hour deliveries, that you are not going to perform well because of bowling conditions that are not really suited to your pace and your style of bowling, then you are doing the wrong thing,” he added.

“So, I think they have been fixated on conditions and there are other things to take note of for example the strengths of the opposition, the Bangladeshis are very adept at playing spin bowling.”

Windies fast bowling legend Sir Andy Roberts has hailed current West Indies captain Jason Holder as an excellent cricketer but concedes aspects of his captaincy could use a bit of work.

Roberts believes that, in particular, the all-rounder still struggles with the setting of his field and making key leadership decisions at crucial times.

Holder’s captaincy has come under the microscope in recent months, on the back of disappointing results and underwhelming performances by the team against both England and New Zealand.  The issues disgruntled pundits have pointed out have had to do with the his field placings and decisions whether to bat or bowl after winning the toss.

“I think Jason Holder as a captain on the field is lost. I don’t think he is aware of what is going on on the field because if I win a toss as a captain and before lunch on a green top pitch I am having a man on the point boundary, then I am lost,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“That’s the first thing. His field placing (leaves) a lot to be desired and I believe the time should come where he takes instructions from the coaches who can see the game better than he can,” he added.

Roberts, however, also believes Holder has been let down by players around him, while also calling on the all-rounder to be more aggressive.

“A captain is only as good as the men who he leads, so there has to be something wrong with the 11 guys on the field and cannot pinpoint certain things to the captain,” Roberts said.

“I would give him an ‘A’ grade for his interviews – he interviews very well. He’s a damn good cricketer but he needs to be more aggressive in his approach as a captain. He’s too defensive-minded.”

West Indies legend Sir Andy Roberts insists the region’s fall off in producing top-class bowling talent is due to the unwillingness of the current generation to put in the hard yards required to be successful.

For decades, the region was the producer of fearsome fast bowling talent, which often left opposition batsmen with plenty to think about.  The likes of Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Wes Hall, and Michael Holding are only a few of the names who could leave opponents with plenty to dread once they strode to the crease.

Many will point to the pace-bowling lineage being broken with the end of twin towers Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, with no bowler since managing to come close to consistency matching that once fearsome legacy.

“I don’t think that these guys are prepared for the hard work that fast bowling entails,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest program.

“If you look at it, most players now prefer to play T20s, it's only four overs.  I must say that fast bowling is hard work, I would say donkey work, but I just believe they are not prepared,” he added.

In recent times, some have blamed poor preparation of the region’s pitches for suffocation of the Caribbean’s fast bowling talent, Roberts, however, does not agree.

“A lot of people blame the pitches, but I always ask, Pakistan is supposed to have some of the slowest pitches in the world, yet still they produce some of the fastest bowlers in the world.  How do they do it and we can’t,” Roberts said.

 “People believe that during the 60s, 70s, and 80s we used to have really fast pitches, that is far from the truth.  We used to have Kensington Oval, the ball used to swing around and move off the seam on the first day, but after that, it became one of the best batting pitches in the region.  It has nothing to do with pitches, it has a lot to do with the work ethics of the young cricketers, they don’t want to work hard.”

Dan Lawrence gave Joe Root a first-hand look at his talents on debut in Sri Lanka and the England Test captain came away impressed.

Root brought up his 18th century in the longest format and reached 168 not out before rain and bad light spared Sri Lanka the punishment of an evening session on day two.

The other stand-out turn in England amassing 320-4 - a first-innings lead of 185 after the hosts were skittled on day one - was Lawrence, who plundered a stylish 73 to announce himself at the highest level.

A mighty slog-swept six off left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya came with ample panache and was the shot of the day.

He helped add 173 alongside Root for the fourth wicket and the captain looked on approvingly.

"I'm very impressed, I thought he played magnificently well," he said.

"He showed exactly why he deserves his opportunity to play, and hopefully it is the start of something very special for him."

Root surpassed Kevin Pietersen's 151 in Colombo nine years ago to register England's highest score in Sri Lanka.

Despite this being his first Test century since November 2019, the Yorkshireman showed he had not lost his knack for going big - this his eighth score in excess of 150.

"Generally when I make a 100, I make it really count," he said.

"I have got quite a good record past 100, so tomorrow I will be trying to make that another really big one and drive the game forward from there.

"I felt that I got in a really good mindset throughout this game so far and I will try and take that into the rest of this winter tour and beyond.

"The previous couple of hundreds that I have got - even though they were a while ago - have come at the end of series.

"So to get one at the start of a very long winter is quite exciting, and hopefully I can take that forward into the rest of the game."

Joe Root led from the front with an unbeaten century to leave England in complete control of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.

Resuming on 66, the England captain batted throughout truncated day two in masterful fashion, reaching 168 at tea before rain and bad light put paid to the final session, with the tourists on 320-4 - a first-innings lead of 185.

Debutant Dan Lawrence made a wonderfully fluent 73 as part of a 173 alongside Root, with Sri Lanka's main hopes of avoiding a heavy defeat already seemingly pinned on further unseasonably wet weather.

Events might have panned out very differently had Dilruwan Perera removed Root lbw with the first ball of the day, but an umpire's call fell in the batsman's favour and he was off and running with a straight four crunched back down the ground in the same over.

The tireless Lasith Embuldeniya claimed his third wicket of the match as Kusal Mendis held a sharp chance at gully to dismiss Jonny Bairstow three runs shy of a half-century.

Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, Lawrence showed no sign of debut nerves as his attractive, smooth-wristed style transferred easily to the Test arena.

The highlight of the 23-year-old's 150-ball knock came when he launched left-arm spinner Embuldeniya for a huge, slog-swept six.

Root and Lawrence played in unhurried fashion off front and back foot, devouring a heavy diet of spin bowling until Dilruwan found extra bounce with the second new ball to have the youngster caught by Mendis at short leg.

Jos Buttler's scratchy progress against Dilruwan showed batting might not be quite as easy on a turning surface as Root and Lawrence suggested, meaning England are ominously placed despite the lost time.

Root begins pivotal year in emphatic fashion

A packed 2021 schedule is likely to define Root's reign as England's Test captain, with home and away series against India preceding a trip to Australia and a third crack at Ashes glory in his tenure.

He probably took a light lunch, having ended the first session on 99 in pursuit of a first ton in the longest format since November 2019.

In truth, the immaculate balance and judgement Root displayed throughout made an 18th Test century feel like a formality and, after nudging a single off Dilruwan from the second ball of the session, he went on to surpass Kevin Pietersen's 151 in Colombo in 2012 to make England's highest individual score in Sri Lanka.

Lawrence gives England a handy problem

Root and head coach Chris Silverwood will need to call on squad depth as they negotiate the challenges of the year to come and Lawrence's stylish introduction to the middle order was most welcome.

A remodelled Test side designed to bat time at the top of the order with the likes of Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Rory Burns now has another option in the engine room to make the purists purr. Ollie Pope knows he must hit the ground running on his expected return from shoulder surgery in India.

Embuldeniya gamely holds the fort in Galle

Sri Lanka's spinners have matched their batsmen for ineptitude at times, with Dilruwan struggling for length before finding some rhythm prior to tea and leg-spinner Hasaranga De Silva (0-63) going at more than four an over.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal has turned time and again to Embuldeniya, who has wheeled through 38 overs for his 3-131. If a five-wicket haul arrives it will be the result of relentless toil.

Australia fear they might have let India off the hook on the first day of the deciding Test in Brisbane, according to centurion Marnus Labuschagne.

Number three Labuschagne reached three figures for the first time in the series with a typically diligent 108.

However, he top-edged a pull off debutant seamer Thangarasu Natarajan (2-63) to be pouched by wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, shortly after Matthew Wade departed to the same bowler for 45.

Like Wade, Steve Smith was guilty of not capitalising on a start when he became Washington Sundar's maiden Test wicket on 36, although Cameron Green (28 not out) and under-fire captain Tim Paine (38no) got the hosts to 274-5 at stumps with the four-match series all square at 1-1.

"Look, all our batters are going to make their own assessment of the way they got out. They're all international players," Labuschagne said.

"You know everyone gets judged harshly. You're your own harshest critic and everyone will look at their dismissals and say, 'What could I have done better?'

"I'm definitely disappointed about not going on and getting a really big score that would have put us in a better position as a team.

"We'll still take the position we're in, it was really nice to see Greeny and Tim finish it off there when we did lose two wickets in quick succession."

Injuries have laid waste to India's plans over the course of the series and Natarajan and Sundar featured for the first time in the longest format as key men Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah were ruled out.

It meant learning on the fly against unfamiliar opposition, although it was a challenge Labuschagne relished.

"Definitely I had to formulate some plans on the run and keep trying to understand the situation, what they were doing. That's the part of the game that is really enjoyable." he said when considering an India attack that was further compromised by the loss of Navdeep Saini to a groin injury after only 7.5 overs.

"You've got to read the situation out there. You can look at stuff on a screen and see how guys bowl but only you know out there, with a feel of how you can do things and how you can make things easier. "

Not for the first time, Smith was the centre of controversy for alleged gamesmanship on the final day of the drawn third Test, but Labuschagne failed to spot any ill-effects as the pair shared a stand of 70 for the third wicket.

"I don't think when he walks out onto the field that stuff really concerns him. He's focusing on the ball and scoring runs," he added.

"If anything it gives him extra motivation to put big runs on the board. I don't think that stuff comes into play when he's out there at all."

Marnus Labuschagne notched his fifth Test century on an even opening day of the fourth Test between Australia and India in Brisbane.

Labuschagne (108) helped Australia to 274-5 at stumps on day one at the Gabba, where they are unbeaten in their past 31 Tests, on Friday.

The right-hander was dropped twice and punished India, who continued to fight despite their injury woes.

But Matthew Wade (45) and Tim Paine (38 not out) were Australia's next two top scorers, several poor dismissals costing the hosts after they elected to bat first on a warm day, with the captain and Cameron Green (28 not out) unbeaten at stumps.

Thangarasu Natarajan (2-63) and Washington Sundar (1-63) made their Test debuts for India, who were without Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah and Hanuma Vihari from the drawn third Test.

Adding to India's worries, Navdeep Saini (0-21) was sent for scans on a suspected groin injury.

After winning the toss, Australia quickly found themselves 17-2 in a poor start in their bid to win a series that is locked at 1-1.

Rohit Sharma took a great low catch diving to his right from first slip to remove David Warner (1) off Mohammed Siraj (1-51), while Marcus Harris (5) handed Shardul Thakur (1-67) his first Test wicket with a flick straight to Sundar at square leg.

Steve Smith (36) and Labuschagne steadied the innings with a 70-run partnership before the former departed after lunch, caught by Rohit at short midwicket off Sundar.

Labuschagne was given two lives – on 37 and 48 – and he made India pay alongside Wade as Australia looked set to take control of the Test.

Since Labuschagne made his Test debut in October 2018, only New Zealand star Kane Williamson (six) has made more centuries than his five.

But Wade and Labuschagne skied deliveries from Natarajan with pull shots to give India a way back into the Test as Australia were left at 213-5.

Paine and Green were relatively comfortable before the latter was dropped on 19, Thakur spilling a tough return chance, and they got to stumps ahead of an important day two.

Following PCR tests administered on Wednesday, January 13, Cricket West Indies (CWI) can confirm that Hayden Walsh Jr has tested positive for COVID-19 and will now undergo a period of self-isolation.

The Leeward Islands and West Indies leg-spinner, who is asymptomatic, first returned a negative test result on arrival into Bangladesh on the weekend, and then had a positive return on his test in Dhaka yesterday. This result was verified by a second positive test today.

The West Indies touring squad has been in individual isolation since arriving in Bangladesh and so there has been no contact between squad members since arrival. In accordance with the established medical protocols, Walsh remained isolated from the West Indies squad and is now under the care and supervision of the Team Physician, Dr Praimanand  Singh.

Walsh will remain in isolation until he returns two negative PCR test results and therefore is unavailable to play in the upcoming three-match ODI series against Bangladesh.

All other members of the West Indies touring squad returned second negative COVID-19 tests, after undergoing four tests within the last 11 days.

The three-match ODI Series starts on Wednesday, January 20.

  Full Tour Schedule:

  • January 18: One-day warm-up match, BKSP, Savar
  • January 20 1st ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
  • January 22: 2nd ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
  • January 25: 3rd ODI, ZACS, Chattogram
  • January 28-31: Four-day warm-up, M.A. Aziz Stadium, Chattogram
  • February 3-7: 1st Test Match, ZACS, Chattogram
  • February 11-15: 2nd Test Match, SBNCS, Dhaka

West Indies captain for the upcoming series against Bangladesh, Jason Mohammed, insists there is little pressure on fringe players selected for the tour, having been unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight.

The Caribbean team will take on Bangladesh with somewhat of an unfamiliar line-up, having seen several players pull out of the tour due to concerns regarding the coronavirus.  Among the replacements will be four Test players who are still looking for their first cap and 7 One Day International (ODI) players who could be playing for the first time.

An unexpected and surprise selection for the West Indies squad could, however, gift some players with a platform to make their case for regular inclusion in the first team squad.  Mohammed, however, does not expect that fact to put added pressure on himself or the other batsmen to perform well during the series.

“I wouldn’t say it more pressure there are young guys who are obviously looking to play international cricket.  I don’t think it’s more pressure, I think it’s an ideal opportunity for all of us,” Mohammed told members of the media on Thursday.

“We can put our hands up and say we are ready for international cricket.  I do not think it is more pressure for us, I would say we are just looking forward to the opportunity.”

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) today named Floyd Reifer as the new Head Coach of the West Indies “Rising Stars” Under-19 team. Reifer is an Australian Cricket Board (ACB) certified Level Three Coach, whose leadership experience includes being a former West Indies captain.

The former interim West Indies Head Coach and current Head Coach of the West Indies Emerging Player & High-Performance Programmes will lead the development of the squad as they prepare for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup to be played in the Caribbean in early 2022.

Reifer was chosen because of his impressive track record in building and coaching successful development teams, including the UWI Blackbirds, the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), the West Indies Emerging Players and the West Indies ‘A’ Team.

According to CWI, as a former interim head coach for the senior team, and as batting coach for the recent tour of England, Reifer’s experience and knowledge are perfectly suited to help young West Indians understand what is needed for them to achieve global standards.

He is also a former batting coach for the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots and is the current Head Coach of the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). 

“It is great to be coaching the young players of the West Indies and trying to guide them as we prepare for the World Cup at home,” Reifer said reacting to his appointment.

“I am excited to have already begun the work and I’m sure the young men are also very enthusiastic. In speaking to many of the possible team members, they are all eager to start the programme. They have not been playing much cricket due to the COVID-19 situation, so it is great that CWI has started to put the preparation in place for our team a year out from hosting the World Cup.

“We have solid plans. The programme we have in place is science and technology-based and it looks at all aspects of their game, including cricket fundamentals and personal development. It is very intense and based on creating an 'elite athlete' with a professional mindset. We have held meetings with coaches and the Territorial Boards and they are all happy with the direction we are going. Within that programme, we hope to have high-performance training camps during the year, the annual Under-19 Rising Stars tournament in the summer, followed by hosting the South Africa U19s for five One-Day matches in the Caribbean.”

Jimmy Adams, CWI’s Director of Cricket, said he was happy that CWI had been able to appoint Reifer to lead the Under-19 programme and take the young players through to the World Cup early next year. “The opportunity fits perfectly given his remit as our High-Performance Head Coach, a role in which he has successfully overseen our High-Performance squads in the recent past, including Emerging Players and ‘A’ teams,” Adams said.

“I would also like to thank Graeme West who coached the U19 team in the last three campaigns, including winning the Tournament in 2016. Graeme will continue to be involved in his current role as High-Performance Manager. He will provide valuable support for Floyd in the planning and execution of the programme all the way through to the World Cup next year.”

.  

 

 

West Indies captain for the Bangladesh tour, Jason Mohammed, has taken to heart words of encouragement from former WI captain Clive Lloyd, in light of what he believes have been some negative perspectives.

In all honesty, few are likely to favour the team’s chances against a full-strength Bangladesh when the tour bowls off later this month.  The West Indies were left short-handed in the experience department after 12 of their first-string players opted out of the tour after listing health and safety concerns.

As a result of the regulars opting out, the selectors were forced to hastily assembly a squad that consisted of majority fringe players and a few others with limited experience.  Bangladesh outplayed the full-strength team during a 2018 tour, and have generally had the better of the results in recent encounters.

Still, Mohammed refuses to completely write off the team’s chances before a ball is bowled and was grateful to receive encouragement from the well-respected former West Indies captain, Lloyd, who reportedly penned letters to several players.

“It meant a lot coming from one of our greats.  Those are the things you want to hear because there has been a lot of negative talk going around,” Mohammed told members of the media on Thursday, via an online press conference from Bangladesh.

“When you hear from someone like Clive Lloyd it puts great belief within you. With the World Cup coming up it’s an opportunity for all of us to put our hands up and try and get into the original team, when the full squad is back and have a chance of going to the World Cup.  I think it inspired the guys a lot and hopefully, we can back his words up.”  

 

 

 

During the 2020 tournament the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL),  Jamaica Tallawahs partnered with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) to showcase Jamaica as a fascinating and vibrant destination for all visitors, generating a sponsorship value of US$45.7million.

The 2020 tournament was played behind closed doors in Trinidad as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Tallawahs and Hero CPL worked hard to highlight Jamaica as a leading tourist destination. With record viewership of 523million, a 67 per cent increase on 2019, there was a huge audience watching CPL and hearing about what Jamaica has to offer.

The JTB’s9876543ASP[]\sponsorship of the Jamaica Tallawahs saw tourism footage featuring many of the “must see” locations in Jamaica shown throughout the tournament, with there being a special focus during the Tallawah’s “home” matches. In total Jamaica received a record 395 hours of brand exposure across the tournament.

 “We are delighted to see these numbers and it always pleases us when we are able to show Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean in the best possible light,” said Hero CPL COO, Pete Russell.

“The Hero CPL taking place in 2020 showed the world that the Caribbean was open for business and even in the most trying of circumstances it can deliver an amazing experience for visitors. Jamaica is a fantastic place to visit and we can’t wait to be back there as soon as possible.”

Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Donovan White highlighted the benefits of the partnership.

“Our partnership with Hero Caribbean Premier League gave us the opportunity to present the Jamaican brand to a large global cricket audience,” White said.

“An audience that included cricket aficionados and others from India, South Africa, England and Australia. Our association with Jamaica Tallawahs was well positioned and we are happy with the success of the television production.”

 

Dom Bess claimed a five-wicket haul as England seized immediate control of the first Test against Sri Lanka, skittling their hosts for 135 before reaching 127-2 in reply.

Captain Joe Root and the recalled Jonny Bairstow combined to put on an unbroken third-wicket partnership worth 110 in the final session, the duo finishing unbeaten on 66 and 47 respectively as the tourists dominated the opening day of the series.

As for Sri Lanka, their problems started prior to the game getting underway as skipper Dimuth Karunaratne was ruled out due to a fractured thumb. 

Stuart Broad (3-20) claimed two early wickets as Sri Lanka were reduced to 25-3; they never recovered and were bowled out for the lowest first-innings score in a Test staged at Galle International Stadium.

Angelo Mathews - back in the Sri Lanka XI - combined with stand-in skipper Dinesh Chandimal to put on 56 for the fourth wicket, but that was the only partnership of real note in an innings that spanned a mere 46.1 overs. 

Chandimal top-scored with 28 before he was superbly caught in the covers by Sam Curran off Jack Leach (1-55), leaving the score at 81-5 early in the afternoon session. 

Niroshan Dickwella (12) chopped a long hop from Bess to backward point, while the off-spinner also benefited from a lucky deflection off short leg Bairstow - who took the full brunt of a sweep shot - that allowed wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to catch Dasun Shanaka (23). 

Dilruwan Perera fell quickly for a duck and, after a Leach finger tip saw Lasith Embuldeniya run out at the non-striker's end, Bess bowled PWH de Silva to complete his second five-wicket haul in Tests. 

England's reply stuttered early as opening pair Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley fell cheaply, both dismissed by left-arm spinner Embuldeniya to leave the score at 17-2. 

However, Bairstow – who hit a century when batting at number three in England's previous Test on Sri Lankan soil, back in 2018 – capitalised on his opportunity back in a team minus top-order regulars Rory Burns and Ben Stokes.

Root had needed a review to overturn an lbw decision against him on 20, but otherwise made serene progress to a half-century that means his team trail by just eight runs heading into Friday's action.

Australia and India will both make changes for the winner-takes-all-showdown in Brisbane, where a highly eventful series comes to a conclusion with the fourth Test.

The two nations are tied at 1-1 heading into the final game after India, despite being beset by injury issues, successfully batted out the final day to secure a hard-earned draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

There has been little time for rest and recovery for those involved, while much of the media attention in the aftermath has surrounded the on-field behaviour of Australia's current captain, Tim Paine, and the man he replaced in the role, Steve Smith. 

Paine was fined for dissent after questioning an umpiring decision during the third Test, though it was his verbal sparring with Ravichandran Ashwin on the final day – plus a plethora of dropped catches behind the stumps – that put him in the spotlight. 

Now, though, the skipper and his side must focus on trying to secure a victory at the Gabba – a venue that holds good memories for Australia but less so India, who have failed to triumph there in six previous visits. 

The hosts will again have a new opening partnership on duty too, with Will Pucovski ruled out due to a shoulder injury after a promising Test debut. Marcus Harris will take his place at the top of the order. 

Australia are set to go with an unchanged attack despite the short turnaround - the previous game finished on Monday - meaning off-spinner Nathan Lyon will play in his 100th Test. 

India, meanwhile, have not given anything away in terms of team selection, though at least two changes will be needed to replace injured duo Ravindra Jadeja, who has had surgery on a dislocated thumb, and Hanuma Vihari.

Jasprit Bumrah is also reportedly a major doubt, potentially leaving the tourists without their leading paceman for the decider. 

"If he can play, he will play," India batting coach Vikram Rathour said of Bumrah on the eve of the game. "The injuries are still being monitored. Our medical staff is working with all the players.” 

It has been a busy trip for India's medical staff, that is for sure. Still, whoever takes the field for India will know a draw will be enough to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. 

 

LYON REACHES SPECIAL LANDMARK

Lyon will become the 13th Australian to reach a century of Tests, while he is only four away from reaching 400 wickets in the format.

"I look at the 12 other guys who have played over 100 Test matches for Australia, and they're pure legends in my eyes, not just for Cricket Australia but all around the world," he said ahead of the personal landmark. 

"I'm going to pinch myself each and every day to see my name amongst those players and be the 13th player to do so. It's pretty amazing. I've tried in the past not to look too far ahead, but I'm pretty excited about this one."

His career haul includes dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane 10 times apiece, making the India duo the batsmen he has dismissed the most in Tests.

PATCHED-UP INDIA CAN MAKE HISTORY

If India can record a victory and end Australia's 31-Test unbeaten run at the Gabba, they will secure back-to-back Test series triumphs on Australian soil for the first time.

It will be an even more impressive achievement when taking into consideration the absences. Captain Virat Kohli returned home after the first Test, while Mohammed Shami also only played the once.  Ishant Sharma, meanwhile, has not featured at all. Now, with Vihari and Jadeja sidelined, there will be a new-look middle order.

Wicketkeepers Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha could both feature; the former had his issues with the gloves in Sydney but made a counter-attacking 97 in the final innings that helped save the Test.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Australia are undefeated in their last 31 Tests in Brisbane (W24, D7). Their last defeat in such a fixture at the venue came in November 1988.
- A win for Australia in this match would secure three consecutive Test series victories - the last time they achieved such a feat was from November 2015 to February 2016.
- Pat Cummins has a bowling strike rate of 36.4 in Tests in Brisbane, the best of any player to record 500 deliveries there. His best Test innings figures came at the ground, as he claimed 6-23 against Sri Lanka in January 2019.
- Pujara has been removed four times (in six innings) by Cummins during this series, the most instances by any bowler against a batsman; scoring just 42 in response.
- Australia batsmen have been dismissed lbw on 11 occasions in the three previous Tests; India have only been out in that manner three times. All five lbw decisions at the SCG were against the hosts.

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