Shubman Gill and Mohammad Siraj: India have included a couple of debutants into their Playing XI for the Boxing Day Test.
India have made as many as four changes to their Playing XI for the imminent second Test against Australia in Melbourne. Much like the first Test, the visitors have named their XI on the eve of the match.
In the form of captain Virat Kohli (paternity leave) and fast bowler Mohammed Shami (elbow injury), India had a couple of forced changes to deal with. Coming on the back of a humiliating 8-wicket loss in Adelaide, they have also dropped opening batsman Prithvi Shaw and wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha.
Wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant, who had scored his second Test century at the SCG during India’s previous tour of Australia and most recently his seventh first-class century against Australia A, has been included as Saha’s replacement.
From being India’s first-choice wicket-keeper in overseas Tests to soon not finding a spot in the XI, the southpaw would be keen to impress both in front of and behind the stumps.
In a change which is a brave one despite been discussed a lot in the last week or so, India have decided to bring in all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja as a fifth bowling option instead of picking a specialist batsman as Kohli’s replacement. While there shouldn’t be any doubt about Jadeja’s bowling especially on an MCG track which has been on the flatter side in the recent years, it is his batting which will allure eyeballs.
Having scored 693 runs in 14 Test matches at an average of 53.30 including one century and six half-centuries, Jadeja has the best Test batting average among Indian batsmen who have played more than 10 matches since the start of 2018.
Shubman Gill and Mohammad Siraj handed Test debuts
Batsman Shubman Gill, who had been on the brink of a Test debut for almost a year now, will become India’s first Test player from District Fazilka in Punjab tomorrow.
Apart from Gill, fast bowler Mohammad Siraj will also be making his debut in the Boxing Day Test. The 26-year old player has got the nod after injuries to two of India’s premier pacers in Shami and Ishant Sharma.
Our ⭐ Mohammed Siraj will make his Test debut for 🇮🇳 in the Boxing Day Test at the big ‘G’ tomorrow! 🙌🏻
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) December 25, 2020
While India haven’t revealed their batting order, it would be interesting to see if they choose someone else to part Agarwal at the top of the order especially to give Gill some cushion in the middle-order.
India Playing XI for second Test vs Australia – 1) Mayank Agarwal 2) Shubman Gill 3) Cheteshwar Pujara (vc) 4) Ajinkya Rahane (c) 5) Hanuma Vihari 6) Rishabh Pant (wk) 7) Ravindra Jadeja 8) Ravichandran Ashwin 9) Umesh Yadav 10) Jasprit Bumrah 11) Mohammad Siraj
Why is KL Rahul not part of India’s Playing XI for 2nd Boxing Day Test vs Australia?
India white-ball wicket-keeper batsman Lokesh Rahul had the backing of a lot of experts especially with respect to replacing Kohli in the middle-order. India, who have revealed their Playing XI via a tweet from BCCI’s handle, haven’t disclosed any rationale behind leaving out Rahul.
Rewinding the clock back to the same period mentioned above for Jadeja, Rahul averages a paltry 22.23 on the back of scoring 578 runs in 27 innings. Dropped due to an extended lean patch after the tour of West Indies last year, the 28-year old player has hardly played many first-class matches since then.
Even in his last first-class match, a Ranji Trophy semi-final against Bengal earlier this year at the Eden Gardens, Rahul had returned with scores of 26 and 0. Irrespective of the number of runs Rahul has scored across white-ball formats in the last one year, him earning a Test recall without proving himself in the format would have doubtlessly set the wrong precedent.