In Stats: With Warner & Rohit Injured, What Teams Will Be Missing
A look at what India and Australia will be missing with Warner and Rohit both not playing the first Test.
With India and Australia winning each of the ODI and T20I series, the focus now shifts to the biggest prize of the tour – the Border Gavaskar Trophy.
In the days leading up to the four-Test series, the Australian camp would have been pretty upbeat about clinching back the trophy after losing it the last time these two teams met in 2018-19; on that occasion though, the Aussies were without two of their first-choice players in Steve Smith and David Warner.
Until about a fortnight before the upcoming series, Australia had all their first-choice players available, and were even tipped favourites.
Then things happened. David Warner injured his groin adductor muscle attempting to save a ball in the outfield in the 2nd ODI against India. Scans revealed a serious enough injury, and he was ruled out of the series opener in Adelaide.
Then the young talented Victorian batsman Will Pucovski, who was the stand-by opener in the squad, suffered a blow to the head in the warm-up match, suffered a concussion and was ruled out of the opening Test. The Australian squad suffered a third blow when the West Australian all-rounder Cameron Green, who was impressive in the tour match, took a blow to his head and now might potentially miss out on a Test debut.
Warner Injury – a Blow to Australia
With Australia struggling to find quality openers in their domestic cricket system and the incumbent opener Joe Burns woefully out of form (he has scored 26 runs in his last 7 innings in first-class cricket), David Warner being ruled out of the series-opener is a body blow to the hosts’ chances. Particularly given the form he has been in recent times, the fact that he loves playing in Australia, and relishes playing at the Adelaide Oval.
David Warner Fact File
- Highest-ranked opening batsman in the ICC rankings for Test batsman; ranked 6th.
- Scored 786 runs in 5 Tests at home last season
- Scored a record 335* in the last Day and Night Test at Adelaide (Vs. Pakistan)
- Scored 4 hundreds and a half-century, & averages 80.38 in 8 Tests at the Adelaide Oval
- Scored hundreds in both innings the last time he played against India at Adelaide
- Scored fluent half-centuries in the two ODIs against India before the injury
Australia needed the ability, class and experience of David Warner to see them off to sound starts and lay the platform for the likes of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith to build on.
Study the Test cricket scene, and chances are there’ll be very few disputing the claim that “David Warner is the best Test opener currently”; the 34-year old has scored 7,205 Test runs, averages nearly 50, and his 24 hundreds are the most among current openers. His superlative career stats – in comparison to batsmen doing the difficult job of facing the new ball for other teams – clearly illustrate his superiority.
Looking across Test history, Sunil Gavaskar (33), Alastair Cook (31), Matthew Hayden (31) and Graeme Smith (27) are the only openers to have scored more hundreds than Warner (24).
Further, David Warner loves playing in Australia; he averages 66.76, has scored 62% of his career runs and 75% of his career hundreds in Tests at home. Further, his batting average at home is nearly twice his batting average overseas (34.50).
David Warner’s batting average in the last 7 Test series at home: 59.40, 489.00, 63.00, 71.20, 39.33, 75.33, 98.66!
And finally, David Warner knows the Indian quicks better than most of the batsmen in the Australian line-up; the left-hander has faced all of them previously – either in international cricket or in the IPL, and has given a good account of himself against most.
Rohit Sharma’s Absence Can Hurt India
Openers Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma were the pillars on which India registered five consecutive Test wins at home last season (against South Africa and Bangladesh).
Rohit, in his maiden Test series as opening batsman, flourished in conditions which didn’t have too much in it for the bowlers, and against bowlers who looked listless right through; he would be the team’s second-highest run-getter in the season.
After an extended period in which India struggled to find dependable openers, it appeared India had eventually found an answer in Mayank and Rohit. Of course, Rohit had only succeeded in Tests at home, and overseas conditions were always going to be a true test of Rohit’s ability to open the innings. But several former cricketers were of the opinion that the pace and bounce (and limited movement) on surfaces in Australia suited Rohit Sharma’s style of batting and that he had a fairly good chance to be successful.
But the opportunity to establish his credentials as the complete Test opener got delayed; first the calf injury that forced him to miss the Test series in New Zealand at the start of the year, and now the new ‘mysterious hamstring injury’ that will see him miss at least two Tests in Australia.
On Friday, 11 December, Rohit Sharma passed his fitness test in Bengaluru and was cleared to join up with the Test squad in Australia. Interestingly though, the BCCI’s press release declares that Rohit Sharma is ‘clinically fit’, and adds:
“The NCA medical Team was satisfied with the physical fitness of Mr Sharma after assessing him on different metrics that tested his skills related to batting, fielding and running between the wickets. Mr Sharma’s physical fitness has been satisfactory, however, he will be required to continue work on his endurance.
He has been given a detailed programme to follow for the duration of the two weeks he will be quarantined for. He will be reassessed by the Team India medical team post his quarantine to establish his fitness status and a call on his participation in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be taken accordingly.”
So, India are back to the situation they faced in New Zealand; they have to find a partner for Mayank Agarwal. Prithvi Shaw, who was Mayank’s opening partner in the two Tests in New Zealand, continued to be one dimensional (stand and flay through the off-side - with no footwork) and loose with his batting in the two warm-up matches in Australia; he made scores of 0, 19, 40 and 3, and was disappointing with his disregard for the format he was playing in and his general game awareness.
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