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The Gabbatoir holds the remains of many a visiting batsman’s ego and pride. The Gabbatoir is home to many a batsman’s broken dreams. The Gabbatoir is where the Aussies love to provide their tourists a rude awakening. The Gabbatoir is from where you rarely leave the way you came as a batsman. These may not be statements you’ve already read about the Gabba. Or maybe they are.
The chances are you surely would have come across something to the effect that the Gabba is not a very nice place to be for any team that’s landed on Australian shores.
But somehow the narrative doesn’t seem quite as dire for the Indians who landed in Brisbane two days ago for their final leg of what’s been a dramatic and rather hectic tour. It’s understandable though. For starters, India have done the Gabba a favour – that is based on its reputation – by arriving here hurt. Or with a number of their players carrying some form of injury.
But unlike many other teams who’ve walked on to the Gabba fearing the worst, this Indian team only has external injuries to show for what has been a gruelling two months in Australia. Their spirits and character are as intact and as upbeat as they ever have been in their collective careers. They’ve after all withstood every adversity that has come their way, be it on the field or off it, by surging ahead and putting on performances that have been quite sensational, be it the win in Melbourne or the dramatic draw in Sydney.
What they’ve also done over their 10 or so weeks Down Under is get more than just acclimatised to the pitches and conditions here. That should mean that unlike most of the other visitors since 1988, when Australia last lost a Test here, Ajinkya Rahane & Co. won’t face up to the might of the Gabba cauldron having just got off the plane. They’ll instead front up to it just before they board the flight back home.
There have been many teams over the last two and a half decades who’ve come to Brisbane with the belief that they could end the “streak” but none have come too close to achieving it. Australia’s 24-0 record is a mighty testament to why the Gabba is their fortress. And again, in terms of pure world-class quality in the opposition, India have many more out of the XI than in it, courtesy the spate of injuries.
But like they’ve done throughout this series, you’d expect India to not be too fazed with who they do walk out with. India have a decent record at the Gabba having not played here since the 2014-15 series, where they ran the Aussies close before losing their way in the second innings and losing by four wickets. Like has always been the case, it’s Australia’s record to defend.
And because they’re not starting off here with a clean slate, as in with the series 0-0. Instead, with India having levelled it in Melbourne and having kept it alive in Sydney, the pressure is on the hosts to not only win to make sure they win the series but also to deny India retaining the Border Gavaskar Trophy in their backyard.
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Match: Australia vs India
Series: India tour of Australia, 2020-21
Date: Friday, January 15, 2021 – Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Time: 04:30 local / 12:00 GMT / 05:00 PST
Venue: The Gabba, Brisbane
Weather and Pitch Conditions:
David Sandurski, the chief Gabba curator, has had an extremely busy few months already. There was of course the mighty task of getting the Gabba ready for the AFL Grand Final back in October.
And even though he compared making Test match pitches to “riding a bike” for him, he did talk about the pressure on him to provide an “ideal” Gabba pitch with pace and bounce.
Pictures that have been released online of the 22 yards has it looking rather pale in terms of grass cover but like has been the case in Brisbane, along with some assistance to the bowlers, the pitch does offer a lot of runs for whoever is ready to dig in.
The weather forecast for the Test isn’t the best with thunderstorms expected to hit on Days 2 and 4, with some locals suggesting that the tropical rain would hit in the afternoon, which could potentially disrupt the match significantly.
Today’s Playing XI:
David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (c & wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Mayank Agarwal/Prithvi Shaw/Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah/Shardul Thakur, Mohammad Siraj
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