Mitchell Starc set to bolster Australia for Delhi Test against India

Left-arm pacer hopes to play second Test despite still recovering from finger injury

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Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc is optimistic about his chances of returning to the side for the second Test against India in New Delhi, aiming to boost a beleaguered side that lost the opening match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Nagpur by an innings.

Starc is still facing the lingering effects of a finger injury that kept him out of first Test. The visitors lost by an innings and 132 runs inside three days on a slow wicket in Nagpur and brought in left-armer Starc into the squad ahead of the second match, which begins in New Delhi on Friday.

"I'd like to be a little further down the road," said Starc, who sustained the injury fielding against South Africa in December.

"Still a good chance of playing. It'll come down to how it reacts by the end of the day, how the medical staff see it, how the selectors, skipper Pat Cummins and Ronnie (coach Andrew McDonald) feel about it.

"I'll do everything I can to be available for selection."

Starc told reporters he planned to bowl "as normal" but his finger was still lacking strength after being in a splint for weeks.

Rohit Sharma's India will look to keep up the momentum with a line-up unlikely to change in batsman Cheteshwar Pujara's 100th Test.

"It's a huge achievement for any cricketer. A lot of things are, other than talent, responsible for playing 100 Test matches," said India coach Rahul Dravid.

"It is a reflection of your longevity. It is a tribute to your skill, your fitness, your resilience, ability to handle success and failure."

Australia are expected to make changes with left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann likely to be part of a spin attack alongside Todd Murphy, who bagged seven wickets on his Test debut in Nagpur, and Nathan Lyon at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.

India will have history on their side at the Arun Jaitley Stadium - previously Feroz Shah Kotla - where they haven't lost a Test since 1987.

But coach Dravid said they will not get carried away by records and focus on the coming five days of action.

"We don't look at previous history and go back in time," Dravid said.

"We cannot get carried away by that. Australia are an experienced team and have good players who know they want to come back."

India have moved closer to securing their berth in June's World Test Championship final at The Oval in London.

They need to win the series 3-1 or 3-0 to make the final.

India became the top-ranked one-day team in January after their 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand, to go with their number one T20 ranking. They can also become the No 1 team in Tests if they win the series by a margin of two Tests.

Updated: February 15, 2023, 2:24 PM