The third test between India and Australia gets underway at the MCG in Melbourne on Boxing Day (December 26). The four match test series currently levelled at 1-1 after the hosts inflicted a heavy 146 run defeat on the visitors in the second test at Perth following a narrow loss in Adelaide. All has not been well for Team India who have suffered quite a few injury concerns over the course of the series.
Prithvi Shaw, who twisted his ankle in the warm up game against Cricket Australia XI at Sydney, has been ruled out of the series while Ravichandran Ashwin and Rohit Sharma missed out on the second test with injuries sustained in the first test. Ravindra Jadeja, who reportedly wasn’t fully fit for the first two test matches, has been given the much needed green signal ahead of the third test.
Former Indian cricketer Anil Kumble has picked his playing XI for the Boxing Day Test which he reckons will decide the fate of Virat Kohli and Co. in the ongoing test series. The former Team India Head Coach has backed Mayank Agarwal to make his international debut in the Boxing Day Test. The 48 year old pointed out how youngsters like Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, Hanuma Vihari and Kuldeep Yadav had been doing well for Team India and suggested they Virat Kohli and the team management should definitely go in with Mayank in the all important encounter.
Kumble picked Hanuma Vihari as Mayank’s opening partner as he believes that the youngster is technically solid enough to do the job for Team India at the top of the order. The 48 year old, thus, has indirectly hinted at the axing of the opening combination of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, who have looked completely out of sorts in the test series so far.
“I haven’t even seen the pitch, but I will try and have a crack. I will certainly have Mayank Agarwal walk into the playing XI. It is nice to get a youngster kind of energy that you need. We have seen Hanuma Vihari perform, we have seen Kuldeep Yadav perform, we have seen Rishabh Pant perform. So why not throw Mayank Agarwal in the mix,” Kumble said, in an interview with CricketNext. “So you will go with Hanuma Vihari. Test him out, try and push him up the order. And then have Pujara, Kohli, Rahane and Rishabh Pant as the wicketkeeper,” he added.
Kumble has also backed the visitors to go in with two specialist spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, along with the pace bowling trio of Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.
“I need five bowlers and the fast bowlers are tired. And you won’t go with any other other three fast bowlers. So it will be Shami, Bumrah and Ishant and these three need backing up. So the two spinners, I will go with experience – Ashwin and Jadeja – and both can bat as well. So those five form your bottom five,” Kumble said.
Kumble’s playing XI for the third Test: Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.