Indian spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin’s availability remained doubtful for the final Test of the ongoing four-match series against Australia as the 32-year-old is not “100% fit”. Though Ashwin has been included in the 13-man squad for the Sydney Test, the decision related to his participation in the Test will be taken on the morning of the match.
In another major development, Indian pacer Ishant Sharma has been ruled out of the Sydney Test and is replaced by Umesh Yadav in the squad.
Ashwin had missed the second and third Test of the series as well, due to an abdominal strain. Skipper Virat Kohli has expressed disappointment at the development saying that the right-arm bowler is “a vital part of the team in Test cricket”.
Kohli, however, added that spinner Hanuma Vihari is bowling beautifully which makes them feel “absolutely calm about Ashwin not getting to play”. The captain went on to say that they are considering Vihari as a “solid bowling option” at the moment.
“The Ashwin factor does make you alter your plans a little bit. But Vihari has bowled beautifully whenever he got the ball which makes us feel absolutely calm about Ashwin not getting to play,” Kohli said.
“Vihari has looked like picking up a wicket every time he comes on to bowl. We are looking at him as a solid bowling option now, especially in this Test match. He has got pace in the ball, he puts effort and is economical. That’s all you need from a bowler who bowls 10-12 overs for you,” he added.
India are currently leading the four-match series 2-1 and will be aiming to seal the deal while taking on Australia in their final Test which is slated to be held from January 3 to 7 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Here’s the 13-member Indian squad for the Sydney Test:
Virat Kohli (C), A Rahane (VC), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, C Pujara, H Vihari, R Pant, R Jadeja, K Yadav, R Ashwin, M Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.