Emotions high ahead of Australia-India 4th test
SYDNEY (AP) — Emotions will be high when Australia meets India in the fourth cricket test, despite the series already decided in the home team’s favor.
The Australian team will be returning for the first time in a competitive setting to the Sydney Cricket Ground where test batsman Phillip Hughes was hit by a short-pitch delivery during a domestic match last November, leading to his death in hospital two days later.
Several members of the Australian team were on the field when Hughes was felled, and may have to deal with vivid flashbacks as the fourth test proceeds. A plaque dedicated to Hughes will be unveiled outside the Australian team dressing room before play begins Tuesday.
Australia captain Steve Smith said memories of Hughes would be close to the surface as Australia took the field.
“Particularly this week, it’s going to be great to be able to walk past (the plaque) and see the little fella there and give us a bit of inspiration as we’re going out on the field,” Smith said. “Hughesy was one of us, he was one of our good mates. We’ve just got to take care of each other this week.
“It’s going to be another emotional test match and hopefully we can do the Hughes family proud by playing well this week.”
Shane Watson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Brad Haddin and David Warner were all fielding at the SCG on the day Hughes, their former New South Wales state teammate, was fatally injured while batting for South Australia.
“Coming back to the place where it happened, I thought it was going to be extremely tough for the boys,” Smith said. “Particularly the ones that were out there on the day.
“It’s going to be a tough test match ... hopefully we can hold our emotions together well and end this series well.”
India, meanwhile, is promising not to shrink from confrontation at the end of a series riddled with acrimony.
India lost the first two tests at Adelaide and Brisbane and conceded the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after a draw in the third test at Melbourne.
New captain Virat Kohli has been near the epicenter of several of the confrontations that have enlivened the series and has promised his players will not be intimidated, but will meet aggression with aggression.
The absence of Mitchell Johnson from the Australia lineup may cool tempers a little. Johnson will miss the match with a hamstring strain — his place in the pace attack will be taken by Mitchell Starc — alleviating the possibility of a continuation of his personal feud with Kohli.
Kohli, who inherited the Indian test captaincy when M.S. Dhoni unexpectedly announced his retirement from test cricket after the Melbourne match last week, said aggression had to be kept within limits.
“A line doesn’t need to be crossed, but we are not here to back down from any sort of confrontation or any battles,” he said. “But you will still see positive cricket and the same aggressive intent.
“There has been a lot of talk of me going over the top and crossing the line ... I don’t know how one individual is so wrong in standing up for his team.”
Smith said Australia would not relax its effort, though the series has been won.
“It’s still another test match for us, we’ll be looking to win,” he said. “We’re still going to play that aggressive brand of cricket that we’ve been playing the whole summer.”