Steve Smith has confirmed that Australia’s ace speedster Mitchell Starc felt discomfort in his hamstring towards the end of play on Day 4, and will be assessed by the physios before the final day at the Gabba. Smith further emphasized on the need for the bowlers to ‘hit the right lengths’ tomorrow.
Australia will have a little over 90 overs to take 10 Indian wickets and regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Tuesday, but the already-arduous task could very well become next-to-impossible for the hosts, for there is yet a minute possibility of them being without one of their premier seamers.
Right before the end of play of Day 4, after bowling a rather innocuous over to Rohit Sharma, Mitchell Starc appeared to feel his hamstring. There were no immediate concerns, but in what comes as worrying news for Tim Paine’s men, Steve Smith confirmed in the press conference post Day 4 that the left-armer struggled with hamstring issues towards the end of the day. While Smith did not reveal whether Starc would participate tomorrow, the right-hander, however, confirmed that the speedster will be assessed by the physios ahead of the day’s play.
"I saw the same thing walking back - he was grabbing at his right hamstring I think it was, so I'm sure he'll get assessed by the medical staff," Steven Smith said of Starc in the press conference.
"One thing I know about Mitchell is he's tough and he's played through some injuries before and got the job done, so he'll be hopefully good to go tomorrow."
Regardless of whether they will have the services of Starc, the Australian bowlers - the seamers in particular - will have their task cut out on what still remains a Gabba pitch good for run scoring, as was evident from Rohit’s cover-drive late on Day 4. The runs flowed today, too, before the Indian bowlers found a way to pierce through the Aussie batsmen, and Smith reckoned that it will be imperative for the bowlers to bowl in ‘good areas’, particularly with the cracks widening.
"I think the game's in a nice place for us. The wicket's started to play a few tricks today, a couple of balls shot up. So tomorrow I think it's just going to be about bowling good areas and letting the natural variation of the day five wicket do its work and hopefully we can hold on to all the chances.
"The Indian players have batted well. In Sydney we bowled 130 overs - obviously a different wicket to that [Brisbane] - but for us, it is just about being patient, not searching too much, bowling good areas and just letting it happen. I think the more you go searching for it on these kinds of tracks, then you probably don't get the rewards. So it's about hitting good areas consistently and letting the natural variation of the wicket take its course."
With rain around the corner, many expected Paine to go for an aggressive declaration, particularly with Australia needing to win the Test, but the declaration, surprisingly, never came, with the hosts choosing to exhaust all 10 wickets. Paine and Australia came under fire from fans and commentators for ‘defensive tactics’, but Smith suggested that the bowlers, here at Gabba, will not need as many overs as they did at SCG to dismiss the Indian batsmen, owing to the crumbling nature of the wicket.
“It's hard to know. Obviously with the rain coming, we're certainly not weathermen and don't know it's coming, so you have to play the game as you see it as well.
"I think the wicket's certainly different to what it is in Sydney. There's a bit more happening here. We saw a few balls hoot up today, a couple kept a bit low, [and] a couple went off cracks, which is always playing on the batters' mind. So for us it's about hitting really good areas and being nice and patient,” the 31-year-old said.