Aus vs Ind 2nd Test



India also named allrounder Ravindra Jadeja and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant in their XI

Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj will debut for India in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. Coming back into the side were allrounder Ravindra Jadeja and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant. Gill replaced Prithvi Shaw at the top of the order while Siraj came in for the injured Mohammed Shami. In a bold move, India handed over the spot vacated by Virat Kohli to bowling allrounder Jadeja. Pant’s first international match since the New Zealand tour meant Wriddhiman Saha’s return to Tests outside Asia was short-lived.

The most striking of the four changes was the introduction of a fifth bowler – a second frontline spinner – to the attack. The only time both R Ashwin and Jadeja have played together outside Asia and the West Indies was Old Trafford 2014 as part of a five-man attack. The last time a team played two frontline spinners at MCG was India in 2007-08 when both Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh partnered left-arm quicks Zaheer Khan and RP Singh in the attack. Since 2000, fast bowlers have averaged 31 and spinners 44 at MCG. However, India have not picked the spinner at the expense of a fast bowler. It is more an acknowledgement that in the absence of both Ishant Sharma and Shami, they will need bowling back-up.

Jadeja would appear to be that reinforcement even though it leaves the batting thin. Having suffered a concussion and a hamstring injury in the first T20I, Jadeja recovered fully and bowled with intensity in the nets in the lead-up to the Test.

As a possible reinforcement for the now weakened batting, Pant replaced Saha, who was presumably selected as the more accomplished pure wicketkeeper for the pink ball, which was expected to do a lot. In recent years, India’s trend has been to pick Saha when a lot of spin is expected to be bowled. With two spinners in the XI, you might make a case for Saha again, but India needed all the batting they could muster once they decided to play an extra bowler. Also Ashwin and Jadeja will not be expected to bowl as many overs as they do in India nor will they find the same assistance to potentially make life difficult for a wicketkeeper.


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