Melbourne: Australia captain Tim Paine on Tuesday hinted that opener David Warner could play the third Test against India while Will Pucovski is also not far from returning to competitive cricket.
Paine said Warner's recovery is on track and there is a strong possibility of him featuring in the third Test, starting on 7 January in Sydney.
"David looks very good. He has started running between the wickets, so early signs with him very good for the third Test, which is awesome for us," Paine said at the post-match press conference after Australia lost the second Test by eight wickets.
"Pucovski is not far away to return to play. He is pretty close to return," he added.
Warner missed the first two Tests and the preceding three T20 Internationals as well as one ODI game against India due to a groin injury. He sustained the injury during the second ODI.
His return would lend solidity to the Australian top-order as Joe Burns has not been consistent though he scored a half-century in the second innings of the Adelaide Test.
If Pucovski is also cleared to play, it will be interesting to see whether he will be asked to open alongside Warner or persist with Burns.
The 22-year-old Pucovski was tipped to make his Test debut in the first day/night match in Adelaide but it was delayed after he was hit on his helmet during the warm-up game.
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Paine's dropped catches played a key role in the partnership of Hanuma Vihari (23 not out off 161) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 not out off 128), who batted for more than 42 overs for a 62-run stand to save the Test.
Given the nature of the last few series between these teams, it would be naive to think too far ahead; but all factors considered, India will know they have some clawing back to do when they step out at the SCG on day two.
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.