India have axed both their ‘out-of-form’ openers for the Boxing Day Test match after a poor show in the first two Tests in the ongoing 4-match Test series in Australia. In their place, Mayank Agarwal is set to make his Test debut and will become 295th player for India in this format of the game.
Surprisingly, Hanuma Vihari who is India’s middle order batsman will be Agarwal’s opening partner in this Boxing Day Test match! Poor performances from both the front line openers and an injury to young Prithvi Shaw might have prompted the team management to promote Vihari to the top of the batting order.
Moreover, India have also dropped pacer Umesh Yadav who struggled in Perth and Ravindra Jadeja has come into the side as his replacement. Rohit Sharma completely recovered from the injury he sustained during the first Test match of the series at the Adelaide Oval and will take his spot in the middle order.
Ravichandran Ashwin is yet to recover from the abdominal strain that he picked up in Adelaide. “Ravichandran Ashwin is recovering well from his left-sided abdominal strain but not 100% fit. The team management is closely monitoring his progress,” stated BCCI in a press release.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya has been overlooked for this Test match with less first-class match practice since recovering from the groin injury he sustained in the West Indies series. Last time when Australia and India met at this ground, the Test ended in a tame draw. “I think it [MCG pitch] should have enough for the bowlers to be interested on all days of the Test match and hopefully it’s a much livelier wicket than the last time we played here,” said Indian captain Virat Kohli referring the MCG pitch.
India’s playing XI for Boxing Day Test: Virat Kohli (c), Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.
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