Rahul, Gill, Jadeja, Pant & Siraj in line to make India's playing XI for Boxing Day Test
After an embarrassing defeat following an implosion for just 36, India's lowest-ever total in test history, the team is planning to overhaul their playing XI for the Boxing Day test match.
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With Virat Kohli flying back to India on paternity leave and Mohammed Shami having been ruled out of the remaining three matches due to a broken hand, India have to make two forced changes. However, after their embarrassing loss at Adelaide, the team management is considering to go for a complete overhaul.
Here are the five changes that are likely in the Indian playing XI for the second test match of the four-match series at Melbourne.
KL Rahul in for Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw has been found wanting against the quality bowling from Australia and the chinks in his technique (too high a backlift, little feet movement, angled bat etc.) have been highlighted.
The team management is considering bringing in KL Rahul in Shaw's place at the top of the order. Rahul played his last test match a couple of years ago and was dropped in Australia itself for his poor form. But with him having performed exceedingly well in white-ball cricket, he is likely to replace Shaw in this match.
Shubman Gill in for Virat Kohli
It was already decided even before the team flew to Australia that Shubman Gill would take the place of Virat Kohli at number 4 after the Indian skipper departs on paternity leave to be with his wife and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma for the birth of their first child. The stylish batsman has huge potential and it is time that the 21-year-old gets a taste of test cricket.
Ravindra Jadeja in for Hanuma Vihari
It will be tough on Hanuma Vihari, who will have to warm the bench after a poor performance in just one game, but it is the brilliance of Ravindra Jadeja which is pushing his case. Jadeja has come of age as a batsman in recent times and has become very consistent with bat in hand.
He also provides a much more accomplished bowling option as compared to Vihari and can bat at number 6. Jadeja could not make the playing XI in the first test match because of two injuries. He sustained a hamstring injury in the first T20I against Australia and also copped a blow on his head off a Mitchell Starc bouncer and had to be subbed out of the match. He was undergoing concussion protocols and was not available for selection.
The good news for the Indian fans is that Jadeja has not only started training but also batting and bowling in the nets. If he is fit enough to bowl long spells, India will go with him ahead of Hanuma Vihari as he also gives the team a genuine fifth bowling option.
Rishabh Pant in for Wriddhiman Saha
Rishabh Pant scored an explosive century in the second practice match and was expected to make the playing XI. However, Wriddhiman Saha was preferred over him, possibly because the pink ball does a lot more than the red one and the team did not want to take any chances behind the wickets.
With Saha unable to perform with the bat, the team would want to lengthen their batting order by bringing in an attacking option at number 7 in the form of Pant.
Mohammed Siraj/Navdeep Saini in for Mohammed Shami
It came as a huge setback for India after Mohammed Shami got hit on his bowling arm off a Pat Cummins bouncer. He could not continue batting and scans revealed a broken arm.
Shami, who was India's premier bowler alongside Jasprit Bumrah, has been ruled out of the remaining three matches of the series. It is a big void to fill despite all the promise that Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini have shown.
Saini and Siraj played the two side matches prior to the series and Siraj looked the more effective of the two. Although Saini has a lot more pace, Siraj is more consistent and is closer to what you want from a bowler in the test match mould. As a result, Siraj is expected to be Shami's replacement for the second test.
India's probable playing XI for 2nd Test - Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj
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