With Virat Kohli already back in India for the birth of his first child and Mohammed Shami out of the series with a fractured wrist, multiple changes are expected in the Indian playing for the second Test against Australia in Melbourne starting Saturday. Apart from the two forced changes, there can be a few others too after India’s dismal batting performance in the second innings in the first Test going by the net sessions on Wednesday.
India recorded their lowest ever Test total – 36 – in the second innings in Adelaide to lose the first Test by 8 wickets despite having their noses in front for the first two days. The intensity levels in practice session were high with stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane and Ravi Shastri keeping a close eye on the proceedings.
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Shubman Gill and Ravindra Jadeja spent long hours in the nets, suggesting that they might be in the scheme of things for the Boxing Day Test match. Gill, yet to make his Test debut, looked in fine touch against the seamers and appears to be replacing Prithvi Shaw as Mayank Agarwal’s partner.
Shaw, whose technique against the in-coming delivery was exposed in both innings of the day-night Test, was also spotted in the nets with batting coach Vikram Rathour.
Jadeja meanwhile, bowled an hour-long spell to confirm his fitness. The all-rounder had missed the final two T20Is and the first Test due to a concussion and a hamstring injury suffered during the first T20I.
After seeing R Ashwin’s performance in the first Test – he picked up 4 wickets on Day 2 of the pink ball Test – India might lean towards fielding two spinners in the second Test. The possibility of a five-bowler attack also cannot be ruled out with either Mohammed Siraj or Navdeep Saini getting his Test cap in place of the injured Mohammed Shami.
If India does play both Jadeja, Ashwin and three seamers, then Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari could bat a spot higher and Rishabh Pant could come in place of Wriddhiman Saha purely because of his batting skills.
The fact that both Jadeja and Pant will provide different angles for the Australian bowlers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc is also on the Indian Team management’s mind.