Recovering from an Achilles injury, Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood is set to miss the opening Test against India in Nagpur and also remains a doubtful starter for the second game in Delhi.
The 32-year-old had sustained the injury on his left leg after bowling in the rain-affected Sydney Test against South Africa last month.
“Not sure about the first Test. It’s still a few days away but it’s sneaking up pretty quickly,” Hazlewood was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz before Australia’s final session at the KSCA Stadium on the outskirts of Bangalore on Sunday (February 5).
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“Second one is obviously straight after as well. So, we’ll play it by ear over the next week and next few days and hopefully Tuesday goes well,” added the pacer, who is likely to have his first bowl in Nagpur on Tuesday.
Scott Boland likely to play
The opening Test begins on February 9 and if he misses out, Scott Boland might get his first overseas Test. Australia is already without Mitchell Starc for the first Test as the pacer is nursing a finger injury.
“Just a bit of workload management at the moment. Just managing the Achilles. I was bowling a fair bit leading into the tour at home and sort of just pushing up against it,” Hazlewood said.
“Probably wasn’t recovering as well as I would have liked between each session so thought we’d give it a few days here straight of the bat and try and get over the hump and have a bowl from Tuesday on (in Nagpur) and hope it goes well.”
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Hazlewood has had frequent breakdowns in the last two years, having managed to play just four Tests and that too not able to complete a series.
“It’s been frustrating playing one Test at a time,” said the right-arm pacer, who had played the first Test against West Indies but missed the next three with a side strain.
Hazlewood had made a comeback in the Sydney Test only to injure his Achilles.
“It always feels the hardest Test to play, the first one and they sort of get easier as they go and you get to the other side, the end of the series, it gets hard again. Hopefully I can string a couple together on this tour,” he said.
Despite all the injury breaks, Hazlewood’s priority remains Test cricket with Australia set to play the World Test Championship (WTC) final and the Ashes apart from the Border Gavaskar trophy in India.
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“It’s still the same mindset. It’s still about taking every game as it comes. It’s obviously a huge tour and a long tour as well. It’s four Tests. It’s not a two-Test series where you might push things to get up for it.
“Four Tests is a long time and the Ashes is there as well and there’s cricket all the time. It’s just about getting it right, you don’t want it lingering around for months on end.
“The Achilles is a hard one, being a tendon its couple of steps forward, one step back occasionally, which is how it goes for everyone when they’ve got this type of injury. Feels like it’s heading in the right direction,” he said.
Boland, Morris ‘excited’
Hazlewood also backed Boland to deliver if he happens to replace him in the series opener.
“Scotty has bowled plenty at the MCG when it was a flat wicket, it probably wasn’t swinging or reverse swinging so he knows how to work hard for a long period of time,” he said.
“You’ve got Lance Morris who has worked hard on reverse swing for the last month and then a nice lead in here with a few sessions.
“The guys are excited first of all to play in the subcontinent, they both haven’t yet, but they’re very well qualified to do so,” he added.