Team India have been hit with a major blow before the beginning of the third Test of the four-Test series. Their star spinner Ravi Ashwin was ruled out as he failed to fully recover from an abdominal strain.
The off-spinner got injured in the Adelaide Test after bowling over 50 overs in the second innings. He was also left out in the Perth Test. Ahead of the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne, the visitors have announced their playing XI. By the selection, the management have taken some tough calls.
Both the openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have been axed. Mayank Agarwal got his long-awaited Test debut call. Rohit Sharma was also called back to the playing XI after missing out in Perth.
As a result either Rohit or Hanuma Vihari will open the innings with Mayank. Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane will bat in the middle order. Ravindra Jadeja is included in place of Umesh Yadav.
Interestingly all-rounder Hardik Pandya is not included. Rishabh Pant continues to don the gloves. The pace attack will include Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. However Bhuvneshwar Kumar once again finds no spot in the playing XI.
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Australia makes just one change
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The hosts lost their first game at Adelaide, but bounced back in the second Test at Perth. They defeated Virat Kohli and Co. by 146 runs to level the series.
Australia have made just one change for the Boxing Day Test. The Tim Paine-led side replaced out-of-form Peter Handscomb with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.
Regarding the change, skipper Paine told the reporters:
It’s a long series, our bowlers have had a really big workload and we feel we’re going to need Mitch’s bowling at some point. I’m sure Pete would be upset. I think he’s had conversations with the selectors that there are a few things they would like him to work on and Pete is open to that. Pete at his best is going to score a lot of Test runs and not just his batting, he brings a hell of a lot to our side in terms of his fielding, his experience and just the way he generally goes about his cricket.
Marsh was dropped in the first two Tests after a poor performance against Pakistan in UAE. He had managed just 12, 0, 13 and 5 with the bat and took just two wickets with the ball. He is once again looking in good form.
Handscomb was called to the Test side for the ongoing series, but he failed to grab the chances. He scored just 34, 14, 7 and 13. As a result he lost his place. The series is currently locked at 1-1 and a win in Melbourne will hand an unassailable lead in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
India’s playing XI for the third Test:
Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia’s playing XI for the third Test:
Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood