Josh Hazlewood is most likely going to miss the first half of the Test series because his left Achilles injury, which he sustained after bowling in the Sydney Test last month, has not healed.
Aside from helping his teammates during training, Hazlewood has not participated actively in Australia’s pre-series camp in Alur. On Tuesday, the seasoned fast bowler is anticipated to bowl in Nagpur for the first time (February 7).
While it appears he will miss the first Test of the IND vs AUS test series, giving Scott Boland the opportunity to play his first Test abroad, his availability for the second Test in Delhi is also in doubt given the close proximity of the two games.
This is not a single big injury concern for Australia, as the team is already playing the first few games of the series without Mitchell Starc.
“Not sure about the first Test. It’s still a few days away but it’s sneaking up pretty quickly. The second one is obviously straight after as well.
So, we’ll play it by ear over the next week and next few days and hopefully, Tuesday goes well,” Hazlewood said before Australia’s final session, as quoted in Cricbuzz.
“Just a bit of workload management at the moment. Just managing the Achilles. I was bowling a fair bit leading into the tour at home and sort of just pushing up against it.
Probably wasn’t recovering as well as I would have liked between each session so thought we’d give it a few days here straight off the bat and try and get over the hump and have a bowl from Tuesday on (in Nagpur) and hope it goes well,” he added when asked about his lack of participation.
Still lingering from the Sydney Test match
Hazlewood has only played four Tests in the last two years due to a string of injuries, and never more than one in a series. He participated in the first Test of the recent home summer against the West Indies in Perth.
After that, he came back for the Sydney Test matchup with South Africa. And it is thought that the 32-year-old paceman suffered an Achilles injury during that rain-affected match.
“It’s still lingering from the (Sydney) Test match probably. We obviously bowled after a lot of rain and the jump-offs were quite soft, where we were taking off from and they ended up replacing them as well.
It sort of worked to a degree. But just that extra load jumping off a soft ground to a bowl and again first Test match. Your body is not used to that sort of workload as well.”
“It’s been frustrating playing one Test at a time. It always feels like the hardest Test to play, the first one and they sort of get easier as they go and you get to the other side, the end of the series, it gets hard again. Hopefully, I can string a couple together on this tour,” he said.
Shifting focus toward the test series
Hazlewood stated that he intended to devote all of his attention to Test cricket for the upcoming year, which will be a crucial time for the Australian squad beginning with this high-profile trip to India.
In addition to a very likely appear in the World Test Championships final in June, the Ashes are just a few months away. And as he enters the ninth year of his Test career, despite his ongoing battles with injuries, he asserted that his focus had not changed.
“It’s still the same mindset. It’s still about taking every game as it comes. It’s obviously a huge tour and a long tour as well. It’s four Tests. It’s not a two-Test series where you might push things to get up for it.
Four Tests is a long time and the Ashes are there as well and there’s cricket all the time. It’s just about getting it right, you don’t want it lingering around for months on end.
The Achilles is a hard one, being a tendon it’s a couple of steps forward, one step back occasionally, which is how it goes for everyone when they’ve got this type of injury. Feels like it’s heading in the right direction,” he said.
India’s Test squad for the first two Tests against Australia:
Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Suryakumar Yadav.
Australia Test Squad:
Pat Cummins (captain), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.
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