Pucovski hurt his right shoulder following a heavy landing while diving on the field.
Australia face a nervous wait to see if Will Pucovski will be available for the final Test against India after injuring his shoulder following a heavy landing when he dived in the field on the final day at the SCG.*
In the 86th over of India’s innings, Pucovski was trying to intercept a shot from Hanuma Vihari at midwicket and though he briefly stayed on after being seen by the physio, he left the field at the end of the over.
He did not return for the remainder of the day and was seen wearing an ice pack on his shoulder during the final session. On Tuesday, a CA update said that Pucovski would continue his rehab over the next two days before a decision was made over his fitness.
Pucovski marked his debut with a composed 62 in the first innings, on what he termed the best day of his career, before being caught behind for 10 in the second.
Australia will also be watching how David Warner pulls up from his return to the side in Sydney where he was far from at full fitness following his groin injury. He made 5 and 13 in the match, and could not move with his usual freedom between the wickets, although he was on the field throughout India’s two innings.
“I am [nervous] and I was. It might have been a bit of different circumstances if we were 2-0 up,” Warner had told SEN Radio ahead of the final day at the SCG.
“When you’re doing a fitness test at training, it’s quite easy to get through that. But once you’re out there it is a different intensity, playing the actual game live is where you get nervous.
“I’m trying to sprint as hard as I can. It might look like I’m on a treadmill but it’s quite difficult, I’m hoping I can get through this.”
Should Australia need to make changes at the top of the order for the series decider, they have Matthew Wade, who returned to No. 5 in Sydney having opening in the first two matches, and Marcus Harris is also part of the squad. No additional players have been added.
From a bowling point of view, despite a three-day turnaround to the Gabba, Tim Paine was confident there wouldn’t be any issues for the fast bowlers. Australia have played an unchanged attack throughout the series and currently have Michael Neser and Sean Abbott in reserve. James Pattinson was not part of the squad for the third Test after injuring himself in a fall at home.
“They handle the load pretty well,” Paine said. “They know they have a rest after the Gabba and I think they enjoy bowling there, it’s a bit easier on the body, seeing the ball fly through it’s a bit easier for them mentally as well, it’s enjoyable for them up there. They’ll be fine to go.”
*5.20pm, January 12: The story was updated with information on Pucovski’s status
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
SL vs Eng – Angelo Mathews
“The wicket was not offering anything for the fast bowlers but he was still moving the ball.”
Eleven of Stuart Broad’s 17 overs in the second innings in Galle were maidens. Angelo Mathews, who faced 37 Broad deliveries in that innings, managed only one scoring shot against him. At times, Mathews said, it felt like he was facing Broad in England.
On a pitch that has historically been unkind to quicks, Broad was not only phenomenally accurate, he also attacked the stumps more than he might at home, bowled leg-cutters that almost spat off the dusty Galle surface, and changed up his pace. He’d also taken three wickets for 20 in the first innings, sparking the collapse that essentially won England the match.
Mathews went on to make 71 in the second innings, but thanks in part to Broad’s miserly bowling, Mathews’ strike-rate was down at 32.
“We all know what kind of a bowler Broad is – he’s taken over 500 Test wickets and he’s one of the best fast bowlers going around,” Mathews said. “On any kind of surface, the wicket was not offering anything for the fast bowlers, but he was moving the ball. One spell I felt like I was playing in England against him because he was moving the ball. That’s very difficult for a fast bowler to do in these conditions in Galle.”
England spinners were not far behind on the accuracy front, according to Mathews. Dom Bess and Jack Leach bowled 74.5 overs between them in the second innings, going at less than three an over between them. Leach claimed a five-wicket haul, and Bess took three wickets. They took 14 of the 20 Sri Lanka wickets to fall in the match.
“Even the spinners didn’t give anything away,” Mathews said. “They didn’t give loose deliveries at all. Even though the wicket was turning, and they were trying to take wickets. It was pure Test cricket where they held on to a line and length and we actually made a lot of mistakes by trying to go for too many shots too early off good balls, where we couldn’t score off.”
Despite the England attack’s accuracy, and although many Sri Lanka batsmen got out playing attacking shots, Mathews does not think a more conservative batting approach represents Sri Lanka’s best hope of levelling the series in the second Test. Generally, the thinking at Galle has been to score your runs briskly, before the inevitable unplayable delivery comes your way.
“The way I play is different to a Dinesh Chandimal or a Kusal Perera or a Niroshan Dickwella,” Mathews said. “We’ve got to find our scoring options rather than try to copy some other batsman. Joe Root played a magnificent innings and we can learn a lot from the way he batted, but sometimes the shots he played, we can’t play. We need to be able to understand what we can and what we can’t do on these wickets against their bowlers.
“It’s not about being conservative. You always have to look to score runs. But you need to understand how you can score runs off these bowlers and in these conditions.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
Pak vs SA – Kagiso Rabada expects ‘reverse swing to play a role’ in Pakistan
“It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a Test series we are going to have to earn the right to win.”
South Africa are expecting “reverse swing to play a role” in their upcoming Test series against Pakistan, according to pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada. Like the rest of the squad, this is Rabada’s first trip to Pakistan and his first impressions of conditions are that there’s a lack of bounce and movement but the potential for the older ball to move, which bodes well for him.
“The practice squares we have been playing on have been keeping low. There’s not much lateral movement, especially when the ball gets older. We’re suspecting that reverse swing is going to play a role,” Rabada said.
Rabada is the most experienced member of the South African attack and the only one with a proven track record of making use of reverse swing. His hope that it will be a tool he can use in the upcoming Test series is based on what he has seen at the team’s training venue, the Bomi Khambatta Cricket Pavillion, and he will have to wait until the weekend before getting a glimpse of the surface at the Karachi National Stadium, where the Test will be played. Nonetheless, Rabada expects everyone in the South African squad will have to “adjust” to unfamiliar conditions.
“The batters will have to adjust to the ball not bouncing as much as it does in South Africa. That’s always a challenge,” he said. “We are probably going to have bowl straighter lines. This is cricket 101. We’re not sure about how the venue is going to play but we have an idea.”
Rabada may be among the players that have to make the biggest adjustment. He has not played Test cricket in a year, since he last turned out for South Africa in the third Test of a four-match series against England. He was banned for the final game after an accumulation of demerit points for aggressive and provocative celebrations, something he has become known for throughout his career.
Despite several assurances that he will change, Rabada has yet to show that he can rein himself in and seems he will be giving it another try in this series. “It’s just impulsive. Seems like I never learn but I will have to learn,” he said.
Perhaps the thrill of Test cricket will be enough to keep Rabada in check, especially as he reaffirmed his love for the longest format above all others.
“It (Test cricket) challenges you in every way and it challenges you in very different conditions. These days in one-day cricket, pitches are the same and you have high scoring games quite often,” he said. “That’s not to say I don’t love one-day cricket and T20 cricket. They are great for the game.
“But Test cricket challenges you – the weather, the conditions, it’s interesting to see how it all unfolds. Sometimes you are chasing the game, sometimes you are on top and sometimes it’s even and you have to work out ways to get on top and the other team is doing the same thing. builds up to such a climax. And at the end, after all the hard work you put in, especially when you’ve won, it’s extremely rewarding – more than any other format.”
But Rabada has not tasted a Test victory since South Africa beat Pakistan at home in early 2019. That was two years ago. Since then, Rabada played in home series losses to Sri Lanka and England and an away series defeat in India. He missed South Africa’s most recent assignment, at home against Sri Lanka, as he recovered from a groin injury sustained during the T20 series against England. For that reason, there’s some extra motivation for Rabada to go searching for a series win in a place he has never played in before, against an opposition he rates highly.
“I’m expecting Pakistan to come out fighting. They’ve got some good players. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a Test series we are going to have to earn the right to win. I’d love to go back home with a trophy in the bag,” he said. “It would mean the world. We’ve just won against Sri Lanka and guys have taken a lot of confidence from that. It’s our first time touring Pakistan and it would be nice to get a win and climb up the ladder in the Test championship and to restore even more confidence because we know the capabilities we have as a team. We need to start showing that again and building on that.”
South Africa are all but out of the running for the World Test Championship final and lie fifth, more than 200 points behind their nearest rivals, England. But they are in a period of transition under Boucher and Rabada believes it won’t be long before they are back to their best.
“We know we can beat any team in the world. At the moment we are in a rebuilding phase but I think our future looks extremely bright. We are a new team; a building team; a team full of young energy. It is really exciting and I can’t wait to play.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
Rishabh Pant moves up to 13th in Test rankings; Joe Root back in top five
Marnus Labuschagne meanwhile moved past Virat Kohli to take third spot.
Pant, the top-ranked keeper on the batting charts, climbed to a career high No.13 after his 89 not out at the Gabba sealed a famous series win for India. Root, meanwhile, returned to the top five with his highest ratings points tally (738) in two years, as his first innings 228 against Sri Lanka was enough to push him up six places, overtaking the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Babar Azam.
Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne also recorded a personal milestone, as his first-innings century in Brisbane took him past Virat Kohli to third spot, with a career-best 878 rating points. Despite a disappointing series as captain, Tim Paine moved up three spots as well, to 42nd, following scores of 50 and 27 in the decisive fourth Test. Among the Australia bowlers, Josh Hazlewood made the most significant leap, overtaking New Zealand’s Tim Southee to bag fourth spot. Hazlewood claimed six wickets at the Gabba, including a haul of 5 for 57 in the first innings.
For India, who had several players chipping in with crucial contributions throughout the series, there were quite a few personal highs. Opener Shubman Gill moved up 21 places to 47th after making a crucial 91 in the second innings, while Pujara went up one spot to seventh following his dogged 56 off 211 deliveries.
Mohammed Siraj, who made his debut during the second Test in Melbourne, jumped up 32 spots to 45th in the bowlers rankings after he took a five-wicket haul in Brisbane. Shardul Thakur and debutant Washington Sundar, who provided one of the first turning points at the Gabba with their partnership of 123 in the first innings, were also rewarded with individual milestones. Sundar reached No.82 on the batting list, while Thakur, who claimed seven wickets during the Test, shot up to No.65 in the bowlers rankings.
The other significant movers on the list were England’s spinners Jack Leach (40th) and Dom Bess (50th), after they both claimed five-wicket hauls in Galle. Lahiru Thirimanne, Sri Lanka’s lone centurion in the Test, moved up 12 places to take the 87th spot on the batting list.
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