Perth: India skipper Virat Kohli was undaunted on Thursday despite losing prolific spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and batsman Rohit Sharma to injury as he looks to twist the knife in the second Test against Australia.
The visitors went 1-0 in the four-Test series after a tense, 31-run win in Adelaide earlier this week — their first victory in Australia in a decade.
But India, who are searching for their first series win in Australia, suffered a setback when Ashwin and the experienced Sharma were declared unavailable for the second Test in Perth, starting Friday.
Ashwin is receiving treatment for a left-sided abdominal strain, while Sharma jarred his back while fielding in Adelaide, the Board of Control for Cricket in India said.
Also missing, as expected, will be exciting young opener Prithvi Shaw, who suffering ligament damage in a warm-up match ahead of the Adelaide Test. The BCCI said Shaw, 19, was “recovering well” but was still undergoing treatment.
However, Kohli was bullish about India’s prospects in the inaugural Test at the new Perth Stadium, which has replaced the city’s venerable WACA Ground as its premier cricket venue.
“We are definitely confident of the percentage of chances we have and we want to build on that,” said Kohli at a pre-match press conference before the injury problems were announced.
All-rounder Hanuma Vihari is expected to slot in for Sharma, with the final spot a toss-up between pacemen Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav or Ravindra Jadeja, who has taken 185 Test wickets with his left-arm spin and also averages 32.44 with the bat.
The Test will be the first at the new 60,000-capacity Perth Stadium, whose wicket is likely to be fast and bouncy like the old WACA, just over the Swan River.
Kohli said he was impressed by the new arena and not concerned by a wicket that is set to favour fast bowlers, with Australia having a world-class line-up of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
He pointed to his own attack of Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, saying they were “at the peak of their abilities”.
“And as batsmen it gives us a lot of motivation and boosts us up to put in those significant match-winning batting performances, because we have so much belief in our bowling unit at the moment.
“We understand that if we bat well, we will definitely get the result that we want.”
Australia skipper Tim Paine declared himself fit and ready to go with the hosts naming an unchanged side for the Perth clash.
Paine suffered a finger injury in the series-opening loss to India in Adelaide but the 34-year-old wicketkeeper confirmed he would line up in an unchanged batting order when the match starts on Friday.
“Yeah, no I’m fine. I’ve got a few niggles everywhere but I’m not alone there, I don’t think, at my age. Finger is fine, yeah,” Paine told a news conference.
Paceman Mitchell Starc retains his place in the side despite what was perceived to be a sub-par performance in Adelaide, and will be looking for a strong performance in conditions which are expected to favour his skills at the new Perth Stadium.
“Starcy’s been good for us. I thought the criticism he got this week’s been pretty unfair to be honest,” Paine said of the left-arm quick, who took five for 103 in the first Test.