Cruel blow for unlucky Aussie young gun

Australian captain Tim Paine has confirmed opening batsman Will Pucovski will not feature in the fourth Test against India at the Gabba.

Pucovski sustained a shoulder injury during the New Year’s Test in Sydney, and has not recovered in time for the series decider in Brisbane.

After diving in the field on day five of the SCG Test, Pucovski was rushed off the field and sent for scans.

He did not make an appearance at training on Wednesday, and was unable to partake in fielding drills with his teammates on Thursday morning.

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Victorian teammate Marcus Harris will replace Pucovski in the starting XI, and will play his first Test match since the 2019 Ashes.

As a result, Australia will have used five different opening batsmen throughout the four-match series.

“Will Pucovski won’t play tomorrow. He’s tried to train this morning and didn’t quite come up,” Paine told reporters on Thursday.

“He’ll have a bit of work to do with our medicos from here … Marcus Harris will replace him and I think there will be some discussions around Will’s rehab.

“He’s had a fitness test just now and not come up. Marcus Harris will come in, we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.

“Harry’s just a no-fuss very good player … He’s been working his backside off for a while now, he’s had huge numbers in Sheffield Shield cricket and deserves his opportunity.”

Pucovski made his Test debut at the SCG last week and proved his worth with a classy 62 in the first innings.

The young gun made headlines earlier this season by plundering consecutive double-centuries in the Sheffield Shield.

However, Pucovski was withdrawn from the first two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after copping a blow to the head during a warm-up match against India A at Drummoyne Oval in December.

It was the Victorian’s ninth reported concussion in six years.

Pucovski has been on the verge of a Test debut for two years, but concussion and mental health concerns have repeatedly stood in the way of a Baggy Green.

And one match into his Test career, the luckless batsman is once again forced to bide his time on the sidelines.

Harris has represented Australia in nine Tests since making his international debut in December 2018, scoring 385 runs at an average of 24.06.

He was replaced by Queenslander Joe Burns last summer following a disappointing Ashes campaign.

But Harris pushed his case for a recall after accumulating 355 runs in two Sheffield Shield matches this summer, including a record-breaking partnership with Pucovski against South Australia.

The fourth Test between Australia and India will commence at the Gabba on Friday with the series delicately poised at 1-1.

AUSTRALIAN XI FOR FOURTH TEST

David Warner

Marcus Harris

Marnus Labuschagne

Steve Smith

Matthew Wade

Cameron Green

Tim Paine (c, wk)

Pat Cummins

Mitchell Starc

Josh Hazlewood

Nathan Lyon

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