Australia may play more quickly against India as Pat Cummins seeks to be flexible

On his return to Sydney, Josh Hazlewood impressed

Pat Cummins is keeping an open mind regarding the balance of the side that Australia will need during their tour of India, so using three frontline quicks is still an option.

Their bowling attack during the 2004 tour, when they last triumphed in India, was centred around the three-pronged pace of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, and Michael Kasprowicz, as well as the spin of Shane Warne and a few fill-in overs.

Although the rise of Cameron Green has given them more flexibility, Australia has the resources to field a team in a similar shape this time. 

The selectors will need to choose whether to stay with the two-quick, two-spinner strategy used against South Africa or support what has historically been Australia’s strength in pace bowlers because Green is scheduled to miss the first Test in Nagpur due to a broken finger.

Australia last played there in 2008, during the inaugural match at the VCA Stadium, when Jason Krejza made his debut and grabbed 12 wickets. Nagpur has not hosted a Test match since 2017.

Due to his broken finger sustained at the MCG, Mitchell Starc is also unlikely to be fit for the first Test and things could still be tight for the second in Delhi. 

However, Josh Hazlewood’s impressive comeback in Sydney, where he was threatening with reverse swing, means that he may get more opportunities than he did on last year’s trips to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, where he only played once.

It might be an option to field Scott Boland, Cummins, and Hazlewood together unless the pitch is so compelling that adding another spinner is necessary. Boland was left out of the final Test against South Africa and has yet to play a game abroad.

Ashton Agar, Australia’s second spinner at the SCG, failed to pick up a wicket in his first home Test, nearly ten years after making his debut. 

Agar is guaranteed a spot for the India tour, and Australia is eager to have a left-arm spinner in their assault, although Todd Murphy and Mitchell Swepson are other candidates for the trip.

However, Australia might also use a combination of their part-time spinners to support Nathan Lyon, with Travis Head becoming a potential alternative as his offspin improves. 

In his last seven Test matches, Head, who had not previously scored, has taken seven wickets at a 13.99 average.

Aside from the bowling, Peter Handscomb, who was brought into the SCG squad when Marcus Harris was released to play BBL, will likely be one of the tour’s possibilities in the batting department. 

With 571 runs at an average of 81.57 this season, he leads the Sheffield Shield in runs scored, and coach Andrew McDonald felt it was unfortunate that Matt Renshaw had initially been chosen over him for Sydney.

At the end of the week, the squad is anticipated to be announced, and they will leave. The tour itself will not include a warm-up game prior to the first Test, which will begin in Nagpur on February 9. Instead, there are plans for a brief training camp in Sydney.