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India vs Australia: A Series of Injuries, Debutants & Record Player Representation

By: Nikhil Narain

Last Updated: January 15, 2021, 13:45 IST

India vs Australia: A Series of Injuries, Debutants & Record Player Representation

India has now fielded 20 players across their playing XIs in the four Tests in the series against Australia - their highest is nearly 60 years. The last time India featured 20 players in a Test series was when Pakistan toured India (5 Tests) in 1960-61.

Navdeep Saini became the latest casualty on India’s long list of injured players on their tour Down Under. The fast bowler was in his 8th over on Day 1 of the series decider in Brisbane when he walked off with a groin injury. He joins Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, KL Rahul, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant and R Ashwin who all suffered injuries before or during the course of the series.

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It has been a nightmare of a series for India as far as injuries have been concerned. Never before in India’s Test cricket history have so many players broken down during the course of a series. That the series scoreline is still 1-1 and the visitors are still competing for the Border Gavaskar Trophy at The Gabba against a full fledged Australian line-up is a testimony of the courage, fightback, skill and temperament of the remaining players in the squad.

India has now fielded 20 players across their playing XIs in the four Tests in the series against Australia - their highest is nearly 60 years. The last time India featured 20 players in a Test series was when Pakistan toured India (5 Tests) in 1960-61. They also fielded 20 players in the five-match home series against New Zealand in 1955-56. The maximum number of players India has played in a series is 26 - against Pakistan at home in the first ever series between the two nations in 1952-53.

Number of Players Who Played in Series​Matches
Pakistan in India Test Series, 1952/53
265
West Indies in India Test Series, 1958/59
245
England in India Test Series, 1951/52
235
Australia in India Test Series, 1959/60
215
New Zealand in India Test Series, 1955/56
205
Pakistan in India Test Series, 1960/61
205
Border-Gavaskar Trophy (India in Australia), 2020/21
204

India fielded 24 players in the five-match home series against the West Indies in 1958-59 and 23 players in the home series (again 5 Tests) against England in 1951-52. A total of 21 players represented India in the home series against Richie Benaud’s Australia in 1959-60.

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Two things stand out about the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020-2021. It is an away series comprising 4 Tests and not the usual 5 which was the norm for all the series listed above. It is the maximum number of players India has fielded in an away series in their Test history. 17 players represented India in the five-Test series in England in 1959. The maximum number of players India has fielded in a four-match away series is also 17 - when they toured Australia in 2014-15.

There were also as many as 5 debutants for India in the current series against Australia - Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill made their Test debut in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, Navdeep Saini made his debut in the Sydney Test while Washington Sundar and T Natarajan are representing India in whites for the first time in Brisbane.

Players Making Debut in SeriesMatches
India in England Test Match, 1932
111
England in India Test Series, 1933/34
103
India in Australia Test Series, 1947/48
94
India in England Test Series, 1946
82
West Indies in India Test Series, 1948/49
85
New Zealand in India Test Series, 1955/56
84
West Indies in India Test Series, 1958/59
85
England in India Test Series, 1951/52
73
Pakistan in India Test Series, 1952/53
74
New Zealand in India Test Series, 1969/70
63
India in England Test Series, 1996
62
India in England Test Series, 1936
53
Australia in India Test Series, 1959/60
53
West Indies in India Test Series, 1987/88
52
Border-Gavaskar Trophy (India in Australia), 2020/21
53

IND vs AUS: Injuries Force Four Changes For India In 4th Test vs Australia at Brisbane

The last occasion when more than 5 players made their debut for India in an away tour was in England in 1996. India had 6 debuts in the series - Paras Mhambrey, Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi and Vikram Rathour all played their first Test in the series opener at Birmingham while Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly made their debut at Lord’s.

Such has been India’s luck with injuries and niggles on the current tour that only two players - Ajinkya Rahane and Chesteshwar Pujara - have played in all the four Tests in the series.

It is a miracle that India had an XI to field at Brisbane.

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