Steve Smith admits Australia’s depth will be tested next week under lights at Adelaide Oval, where the gun batsman will happily shuffle up to first drop if asked.
Smith and David Warner were memorably suspended during Virat Kohli’s previous visit, when the India captain led the tourists to their first Test series win in Australia.
The expectation was Justin Langer’s team would present a far more imposing challenge this summer.
That may still prove the case but Warner’s groin injury and Will Pucovski’s concussion means that Australia’s top six for the pink-ball Test is far from settled, one week out from the start of the four-match series.
Cameron Green’s stunning form and Joe Burns’ recent lack of runs have also given Langer and selectors plenty to think about.
There is speculation that Marnus Labuschagne, who came of age a year ago during a prolific five-Test stretch at No.3 but started his first-class career at the top of the order, could be asked to face the new ball in the absence of Warner.
The knock-on effect for Smith would be a promotion from No.4 to No.3.
“That doesn’t bother me too much, I’ve batted a fair bit at three or four,” Smith said.
“Anywhere up there I’m fine.
“When you bat at three you’re sometimes in second ball of the game, that’s the reality.
“So someone at three could certainly go up the top. Whether that (promoting Labuschange) is spoken about, I’m not sure.”
Labuschagne quickly volunteered to open the batting in Australia’s one-day side after Warner’s setback and is likely to welcome the opportunity to do so in the Test XI.
Matthew Wade has also been touted as a left-field candidate, while Marcus Harris could potentially be rushed in to both the Test squad and XI if he and Burns form an impressive opening partnership at the SCG in coming days.
Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja are experienced options but their absence from the pink-ball tour game that begins on Friday suggests they are unlikely to be summoned to Adelaide.
“I can’t really focus on that. I can’t focus on what I don’t have,” Khawaja said.
The reality is that whoever is given the nod will struggle to fill the 24-Test-ton void left by Warner, who produced a career-best 335 not out in the corresponding fixture last year against Pakistan.
“Our depth is obviously going to be tested with Davey out and a few potentially new players coming in. It’ll test us out,” Smith said.
“India beat us out here last time and they’re a very good side.”
Smith watched “bits and pieces” of the previous four-Test series between the rivals, when star paceman Jasprit Bumrah and patient batsman Cheteshwar Pujara helped India topple an understrength Australia.
“It was difficult sitting on the sidelines and not being able to go out there and make a difference,” Smith said.
“That was the toughest thing, knowing I probably could make a difference.”