Sydney: David Warner has been ruled out of the first Test against India in Adelaide next week because of a groin injury he sustained in the limited-overs series, leaving Australia’s selectors to ponder who will open the batting.
The 34-year-old Warner confirmed Wednesday he wouldn’t recover in time for the series-opening day-night match starting Dec. 17.
“The injury feels a lot better, but I need to be able to satisfy in my own mind and to my teammates that it is 100% ready for Test match conditions — that includes running between the wickets and being agile in the field,” Warner said, targeting a return for the second Test starting 26 December in Melbourne. “Right now I feel I am short of being able to play at peak fitness and another 10 days will make a difference.”
Warner’s announcement came a day after uncapped Test contender Will Pucovski was concussed after being hit on the helmet when he ducked into a short-pitch ball in a three-day game between Australia A and India A. Joe Burns, who opened with Warner in Australia’s previous Test 10 months ago, has been struggling for runs and was out for 4 and 0 in the A game.
Australia's team doctor said the Pucovski, who has had issues with concussion in recent seasons, had showed symptoms of mild concussion from his latest head knock. The 22-year-old Victorian batsman was ruled out of a three-day warmup match starting Friday.
Burns has scored more than 11 just once in seven first-class innings this summer, for an average of just 8.71, but it's likely Australian selectors will stick with him for the first Test. If he's fit, Pucovski will also likely earn his first Test cap.
Other options could be Marcus Harris and former Test batsmen Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja, or to promote one of the other batsmen to open.
Burns, allrounder Cameron Green, fast bower Sean Abbott and legspinner Mitch Swepson are the Test squad members included in the Australian A squad for the match, along with Harris.
Selection committee chairman Trevor Hohns said the Test squad members “will derive great benefit from playing high quality opposition against the pink ball in the final tour match.”
He said a final hit-out against India’s bowlers under lights will round out preparations for the series before the players rejoin the rest of the Test squad in Adelaide.
India is yet to announce its squad for the tour match, with skipper Virat Kohli saying he wasn't sure if he'd in Sydney or rest following the two limited-overs series to prepare for the Tests.
Australia A squad: Sean Abbott, Joe Burns, Alex Carey (captain), Harry Conway, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Moises Henriques, Nic Maddinson, Ben McDermott, Mark Steketee, Will Sutherland, Mitchell Swepson.
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Smith has faced accusations he had been trying to cheat by scuffing up batsman Rishabh Pant's guard at the crease during the tense drawn third Test at Sydney, which left the series locked at 1-1.
Warner is still not hundred percent fit but Paine's eulogies bore testimony to the team's desperation to get their opener back in the wake of their batting unit's flop show in three of the four innings so far.
Warner missed the first two Tests with a groin injury, but looks almost certain to return for Thursday's crucial clash in Sydney, with the four-Test series locked at 1-1.