Melbourne: Australian opener David Warner has declared himself fit for the third Test against India while injury worries over Shane Watson too eased after the duo on Wednesday took part in a training session ahead of the match starting Friday.
The left-handed batsman was struck in the second innings of the Brisbane Test, even as the hosts won the match by four wickets to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
“It was a bit sore when it hit the splice or the toe of the bat, but that’s to be expected. I feel good and I’m ready to go,” Warner said.
“I tried to have a dip at the spinners to see if I could actually hit the ball as hard as I can. It did feel real sore. But for me it’s about trying to hold out that pain and grind it out. I will bear it and get out there on Boxing Day.”
Rookie Joe Burns has been named in the Australian squad for this third Test, and he will take Mitchell Marsh’s place in the playing XI. As such there was never any replacement named for Warner and he was expected to play this match.
However there have been a few injury scares for the hosts this week, with Mitchell Starc and Watson getting hit in the nets yesterday, the latter quite shaken up after being hit on the helmet.
On Wednesday, even as Starc and Watson shook off their concerns, Marsh was hit on the left hand raising yet another concern for the Australian team management.
Meanwhile, Ryan Harris has recovered from his quadriceps injury sustained after the first Test.
While Watson was back in the nets, he didn’t face any pace bowlers. The all-rounder was very disturbed when he had first returned to practice sessions after Phillip Hughes’ death last month.
It remains to be seen whether that incident and his latest hit will be still playing on his mind. Warner though shrugged off this thought.
“A lot of us like to prepare differently. I’m the first person to put my hand up to say I don’t face our quicks as much,” he said. “It’s about feeling bat on ball and getting your feet right for the game. Watson is practicing as well as I’ve seen him. He’d like a bit more runs than he has been scoring. But the way I’ve seen him prepare in the nets he’s looking great.”
“I know myself hundred percent as I was real close with Phil and I was out there the day of it,” said Warner reflecting on that particular tragedy.
“It’s going to be in the back of my mind every time I play. Every time I sit at home I am thinking about nothing but that. For us we’ve got to keep pushing on, he would want us to do that. I know when I got out in the middle he’s always going to be there at the other end.”
While the Indian team had commiserated with their opponents during that time, the last two Tests have seen tensions rising on the field and quite a few verbal exchanges indicating that the rivalry on-field is still sharp as ever. And it doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon, at least as per Warner.
“It’s quite tough with nations that speak different languages. The aim for us it’s not really sledging, it’s more banter. If it requires a little bit of banter to get the other person talking, that’s what is going to happen.
“Some players, they don’t say anything at all, but then when they do, you know you’ve gotten into them and they’re actually listening to you. You know you’re in their head.
“I like to go at them, to try and get them to bite back at me when I go out there and bat. At the moment it’s working,” said Warner, referring to India’s failure to make actions seem louder than words after their aggressive antics failed at Brisbane.
The visitors though got back to serious work today, two days before the all-important Boxing Day Test. They need to win this match to keep alive any hopes of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy that they had won in the home-series of 2012-13 by a 4-0 margin.
It is quite possible that the team management might be mulling an important middle-order change for this match. Rohit Sharma has failed to come up with the goods in the two Tests he has played with scores of 43, 6, 32 and 0.
Team director Ravi Shastri had been quite vocal about Suresh Raina’s re-inclusion in the Test side and there might be a case for him to be given a go in the third Test.
Two days before the match, Raina batted as part of the middle-order in the nets, alongside Ajinkya Rahane and R Ashwin. Next it was the turn of the top-order with Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli taking guard. The latter two were chatting animatedly putting to rest any fears of dressing room unrest that had been feared in the aftermath of the defeat at the Gabba.
Rohit Sharma loitered around for quite a while, and only batted towards the end with Wriddhiman Saha for company.