India set up spin trap for Australia in Nagpur Test

Border-Gavaskar Trophy four-Test series begins on Thursday

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India are contemplating fielding three frontline spinners on a dry surface in the first of the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy series against Australia in Nagpur that begins on Thursday.

The series is of huge significance for both teams. If India win the series by a margin of two Tests, they will rise to the top of the world ranking in all three formats and also qualify for the World Test Championship final.

Australia also have one eye on the WTC final as the top-ranked Test team, and will also be seeking revenge after losing successive home series to India.

The Aussies have not won a Test series in India since 2004, and their task will be made even tougher by the Indian team's record and their plans for this series.

India have lost only two out of 42 Tests over the best part of a decade at home and are on a winning streak of 15 successive series wins.

And they aim to nullify Aussie batsmen on a dry pitch at the VCA Stadium that is likely to assist spinners from the first day.

"There will be a temptation to play three spinners. We are playing in India, where pitches are going to spin. But it is still early to know what the pitch is going to do exactly," batsman KL Rahul said on Tuesday.

"It is a must-win series. When it is India versus Australia, both teams want to win. It is no different than any other Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. We do realise that we want to play the World Test Championship final. But we also want to stay in the present and take it one game at a time," he added.

The tourists will be without some key names for the first Test at least, however.

Seasoned fast bowler Josh Hazlewood will miss the Nagpur match with an Achilles issue, while finger injuries have ruled left-arm quick Mitchell Starc out of the opener and made all-rounder Cameron Green a doubtful starter.

India are not without injury woes either, with wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant missing the series after a car crash in December and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah ruled out of the first two Tests due to a back injury.

Ravindra Jadeja is returning from an ankle injury to add to captain Rohit Sharma's headaches, although the India captain still has plenty of spin options in his squad in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav.

Updated: February 07, 2023, 12:27 PM