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Depleted India keep coming at Gabba

One is yet to meet his newborn daughter, the other grieving a father lost while on tour and a third owes his cricketing rise to a generous retiree who lived around the corner.

Together Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Thangarasu Natarajan had taken just 13 Test wickets when they arrived at the Gabba on Friday.

In contrast Australia boasted 1046.

Not since 1946 have an Indian attack been so inexperienced, owing to an incredible injury list that now totals eight bowlers including dangerous quick Jasprit Bumrah and veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

The pair are among at least 11 unavailable Indians, headlined by new father Virat Kohli who returned home after the first Test.

Saini may even be added to the casualty ward after the quick was forced from the ground mid-over after clutching at his leg in the middle session.

Earlier Steve Smith was Sundar’s maiden Test scalp, the offspinner no stranger to the Australian who leant heavily on the then 17-year-old as captain of Pune in the 2017 IPL.

Sundar may not have reached that point if not for a retired army officer and godfather named PD Washington, who lived nearby the family.

He took a keen interest in Sundar’s cricketing potential, funded his early schooling and sporting pursuits and even dropping him at games on his bicycle.

Natarajan joined the tour after an impressive IPL campaign as a replacement player for the Twenty20 series, staying on as a net bowler for the longer formats despite already missing the birth of his daughter.

On Friday he became the first Indian to make his international debut in all three formats during the same tour.

Siraj is leading the attack in just his third Test, the powerful quick at the centre of the SCG’s crowd behaviour controversy last weekend and still mourning the loss of his father last year after he had departed for Australia.

Despite all that the series is tied 1-1 and they again showed pluck after losing another toss at the batting-friendly Brisbane ground, captain Ajinkya Rahane dropping a chance that would have reduced Australia to 4-93.

Natarajan then had Marnus Labuschagne edging again, only to watch the solitary slip and wicketkeeper reach in vain for the catch as the makeshift attack made Australia work for every run.

INDIAN ABSENTEE LIST

Jasprit Bumrah (abdominal), Mohammed Shami (arm), Umesh Yadav (calf), Ishant Sharma (side), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (thigh), Ravichandran Ashwin (back), Ravindra Jadeja (thumb), Varun Chakravarthy (shoulder, ruled out pre-tour), Hanuma Vihari (hamstring), Virat Kohli (paternity leave) and KL Rahul (wrist).

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