Maxwell, Cummins favoured for vacant Test spots
CRICKET: Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are set to come into Australia's XI to battle the pitch of doom in Ranchi.
Injury has forced Australia into two massive changes for the crucial third Test, and selectors look poised to unleash a side with an attacking mindset as its chief motivation.
Victory in Ranchi is enough to retain Australia the Border Gavaskar trophy and for that reason there is no reason for Steve Smith's side to leave anything in the tank.
The No.6 position vacated by the injured Mitchell Marsh has been an ongoing conundrum for Australia for years now, but a difficult, dry deck that may only last three days has brought game-changer Maxwell firmly into the box seat.
Maxwell has not played a Test since November 2014 in the UAE, and if he gets across the line it would complete a remarkable return from what was a turbulent summer.
Marcus Stoinis only arrived in India late on Tuesday night giving him just two days to prepare, whereas Maxwell has been on tour from day one and spent crucial time preparing in Dubai.
Usman Khawaja is also on tour, but his struggles on the sub-continent in the past could see the left-hander struggle against Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin.
On a difficult pitch where run-scoring could be perilous, Maxwell has the ability to fire off quick lower order runs that have the potential to change the game.
Cummins had his Indian visa ready to go a month ago and has declared he has never been more ready for his long-awaited second coming to arrive.
Cummins admits he was surprised to be called into the side to replace the injured Mitchell Starc, but says he was told weeks ago he was on standby for the tour.
Cricket NSW has argued that Cricket Australia has pushed Cummins' return too quickly, but the 23-year-old believes staying home for Sheffield Shield cricket might have been even tougher on his body than the short-sharp spells he will deliver this week in Ranchi.
"I knew I was on standby for the tour a couple of months ago but really, I thought the bowlers weren't going to bowl too many overs, so I hoped they weren't going to get injured," he said.
"I hadn't really thought about coming over at all.
"They're not great, bowler-friendly wickets for quicks which actually means I won't bowl too many overs.
"From that point of view it was always going to be a plan that was pretty comfortable along with playing some Shield games.
"In some ways it (feels like a second debut) ... but I think since that day this is easily the most prepared I have been for a Test match in terms of body, form, the length that I have been playing the last few months."