In a bid to bounce back after a disastrous start to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, it will be a different Indian team that will face the hosts Australia in the second Test of the four-match series. The ‘Boxing Day Test’ will get underway at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday.
As many as four new players have been included in the playing eleven, announced a day prior to the match by the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Friday.
Out of form Prithvi Shaw, who was dismissed on duck and 4 in the first Test at Adelaide last week, and wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha have been dropped from the second Test squad.
Young opener Shubman Gill, stumper Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Siraj have been included in the playing XI.
Already 0-1 in the four-match Test rubber, India will take on the mighty Aussies in the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli, who returned to India for the birth of his first child. Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will lead the team for the third time in his career in the absence of Kohli.
Punjab youngster Gill and left-arm paceman Mohd Siraj will make their Test debuts at the MCG on Friday. Saha, who failed to perform at Adelaide, has been replaced by Delhi’s Pant.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is also making a comeback to the Test side and will replace Kohli. Jadeja will be eager to prove his versatility in the longest format too after an outstanding performance earlier in the T20 outings.
Shaw’s axing was always on cards after he managed to score just four runs in the opening Test. A technical fault in his batting resulted in getting bowled twice in the first Test.
Gill had impressed during the warm-up game in Australia and he will have to continue that form in the Test match now. His better technique will give the Indian dressing room the confidence required in testing times.
The onus now on Gill to provide solid start to the innings in the company of Mayank Agarwal, who had made his Test debut at the MCG a couple of years ago.
Pant was preferred over veteran Saha for his fearless brand of cricket which is the need of the hour. In the previous series Down Under he had impressed one and all with his aggressive batting and big century.
Mohd Shami’s elbow injury forced India to bring in Siraj, who was one of the finds of the IPL held in the UAE last month. Siraj will need to raise the bar and bowl his heart out with fellow pacemen Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah.
The Australians will field the unchanged XI which helped them rout India inside three days at the Adelaide.
“Well, we can’t pay any attention to mental scars or whatever the thing they’re talking about,” Pain said on the eve of the match.
“We know India is a proud cricket country, an extremely talented Test match side with lots of dangerous players,” he added.
India XI: Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant (WK), R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah.