Hanuma Vihari, despite a promising start to his career, has faltered so far in the series. Three outings have fetched the Andhra batsman only 45 runs, which triggered the possibility of Rahul's Test comeback.

A change at the top of the batting order beckons both sides in Sydney. A back-from-injury Rohit Sharma is set to replace the struggling Mayank Agarwal, while not-a-fully-fit David Warner will be hurried back to solve Australia’s opening trauma. There could be a pair of debutants too, Navdeep Saini a near-certainty as the injured Umesh Yadav’s replacement while the hosts could hand out the Baggy Green to Will Pucovski, should they plan to push Matthew Wade down the order.

KL Rahul’s injury ensures Vihari’s longevity

KL Rahul’s wrist sprain has ended speculation on him displacing Hanuma Vihari from the middle order. The Andhra batsman, despite a promising start to his career, has faltered so far in the series. Three outings have fetched him only 45 runs, which triggered the possibility of Rahul’s Test comeback. There was also the possibility of Rahul opening the innings with Sharma batting at No 5. But the injury he sustained during practice has ruled out the options, and with no other middle-order alternatives in the squad, Vihari is set to feature in both Tests, irrespective of form.

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Navdeep Saini favourite to debut

Navdeep Saini, touted as the future pace spearhead of his country, has come close to debuting in a couple of instances. This time, though, he looks closer than ever before to realising his dream. He’s not without challengers though. Shardul Thakur, who has played a Test against West Indies, is the closest contestant while left-arm seamer T Natarajan is an outsider in the three-horse race. But Saini’s pace and ability to hit a hard length, two influential factors on Australian decks, should tilt the scales in his favour. Besides, he has been touring with the national team as a reserve bowler since the 2018 tour of South Africa.

David Warner a certainty, not so his partner

So desperate are Australia to address their opening woes that they would readily greet David Warner, though he is not fully fit. Interesting though would be the identity of his opening partner. Matthew Wade has not done all too poorly, but is not a specialist opener. And Australia need not push him into doing odd jobs, as they have two specialist openers in the squad — Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski. The latter was widely expected to debut in Adelaide but for the concussion he sustained during a tour game. Now that he’s fully fit, he stands a great chance to make his Test debut. It means Wade could move down the order, knocking off either Travis Head or Cameron Green.

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