Australia’s star pacer Mitchell Starc admitted that he is far behind where he would like to be ahead of the second Test in India and said that he is “still lacking a bit of strength”, while Cameron Green’s prospects of playing have been boosted considerably following a solid nets session in Delhi.
Starc missed the first Test against India in Nagpur because of the finger injury he suffered in late December. The hosts registered a thumping victory in the first test. A five-wicket haul by Ravichandran Ashwin combined with the all-round performance by Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel helped India clinch victory by an inning and 132 runs within three days of the first Test at Nagpur.
The second Test of the series will be held in Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium from February 17-21.
Both players missed the first Test in Nagpur due to finger injuries sustained during last year’s Boxing Day Test against South Africa. Starc did not accompany the squad to Nagpur, instead staying in Sydney to bowl four sessions at home, two with a splint on his middle finger to safeguard his tendon injury and two without.
Starc has already had one bowling session in Delhi, having arrived before the rest of the team on Sunday after flying in from Australia. However, speaking ahead of Australia’s major practice on Wednesday, he conceded that he was not as far along as he would like to be just two days before the Test match.
“There’s still a fair bit of restriction there. Still lacking a bit of strength having been in a splint for six weeks. But it’s progressing – not as fast as I would have liked, but it’s as planned in terms of the medical stuff. There’s a few boxes to tick but it’s on track. I’d like to be a little further down the road. Still a good chance. It’ll come down to how it reacts by the end of the day, how the medical staff see it, how the selectors and Pat [Cummins] and Ronnie [Andrew McDonald] feel about it as well. I’ll do everything I can to be fully available for selection. Then it’s a discussion for the rest of the group involved,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Starc as saying.
He is expected to take over for Scott Boland, as Australia seeks to add some extra pace, left-arm diversity, and stronger use of reverse swing to their approach. He was an obvious inclusion and a vital element in their two-pace, two-spin assault during last year’s tours to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He will also make extra rough outside the off stump for right-handed hitters, which will benefit Australia’s offspinners, Nathan Lyon and Todd Murphy.
“Nath [Lyon] gave me a big hug here. We haven’t got too many right-handers. That’s always a discussion point being a left-armer. I’m a bit heavier on the crease than some of the other guys, who don’t make too many marks. That’s always going to come into play. If I do suit up for this second Test hopefully I can create a bit of havoc out there for the spinners,” Starc said. (ANI)