India and Australia will square off against each other in the upcoming Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The visitors are expected to make some major changes in the playing XI after the batting debacle in Adelaide. Also, naming a like-for-like replacement of Virat Kohli, who is back home on paternity leave, will be another challenge for the team management.
Meanwhile, former Indian pacer Ajit Agarkar has said that he will be surprised if the stand-in skipper doesn’t promote himself at No 4 in the absence of Kohli for the remainder of the series.
In an interview with ANI, Agarkar said, “I think Rahane should promote himself to number four in Kohli’s absence. He has the experience and he has scored runs away from India. This is a time when the leader needs to stand up.”
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“I will be surprised if Rahane does not promote himself to number four. I think Shubman Gill should play, I have been advocating for that for a while, he has the potential. I know he opens for Punjab in domestic cricket, but if someone like him does well, he can serve Indian cricket for a long time,” Agarkar added.
The former Indian pacer also highlighted the impact of Mohammed Shami’s unavailability in the next three games. The latter was hit on the arm while facing a bouncer bowled by Pat Cummins in the second innings.
“It is going to be difficult for sure in Shami’s absence. What Shami and Bumrah have done with Ishant in support has been brilliant. When you lose that type of player early in the series, it is always difficult. It is an opportunity for someone else to make a name, you have to remember these are Australian conditions and as a fast bowler, you do get some assistance,” Agarkar said.
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India succumbed to an eight-wicket loss on the third day of the first Test in Adelaide. They were bowled out for 36 in the second innings, setting a paltry 90-run target for the hosts. The Aussies chased it down inside 21 overs and took a 1-0 lead in the 4-match series.