The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Tuesday announced the playing XI for Team India for the third test against Australia to be played at the MCG from Boxing Day onwards. The announcement from the BCCI has come with some surprise on the eve of Christmas Day. This is the first time that the playing XI has been named 24 hours ahead of the game. There were however bigger surprises waiting on the cards.
The opening duo of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have been axed for the crucial encounter following their poor outing in the first couple of test matches. The opening combination has been a major concern for Team India even since their tour to England and the the same story has continued in Adelaide and Perth as well. Vijay and Rahul have only managed to put on 95 runs in four innings in the test series so far averaging a partnership of 18.
The duo have managed to amass only 166 runs in 11 outings so far at an abysmal average of 15, including a single half century stand which came in the second innings of the Adelaide test. Their lackluster performances have urged the Indian team management to take a brave call and include Mayank Agarwal into the playing XI for the Boxing Day test. The 27 year old is all set to become the 295th player to represent India at the Test level.
Rohit Sharma, who missed out on the second test at Perth with a back injury, has been named in the playing XI for the third test. Hanuma Vihari, who was included in the playing XI for the Perth test following the injury to Rohit, has been retained for the all important encounter. This could mean one of them pushed up the order while the other filling the slot for the highly debatable number 6 position.
Mayank’s inclusion certainly accounts for one of the opening slots but the question of his opening partner is yet to be answered. Vihari, who expressed his wish to open the innings if the team needs at the start of the tour, seems like the most likely candidate to rack up the opening slot.
Indian fans however feel that Rohit should be the one to partner Mayank at the top of the order and not Vihari. While some expressed their delight at the right hander’s inclusion, many who believe that this could be the Hitman’s last chance to secure a permanent spot in the test squad have insisted on giving him a chance at the top.
Here are some of the reactions:
Opening Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal
— Afzal Musa (@AfzalMusa1) December 24, 2018
First time @imVkohli selected a best team after having lot of criticism.. Now it is the best time to make Rohit Sharma as opener n back him.. Great move…. Thanks virat… True cricket fan
— . (@Rushya_) December 25, 2018
Woahhh!! Agarwal n Rohit to Open!! ?
— Mon (@monicas004) December 24, 2018
Superb team selection… We want Rohith as a opener…
— SathishRthiran (@SRthiran) December 24, 2018
Rohit will open with mayank
— Adarsh Singh Raghuvanshi (@AdarshThakur81) December 25, 2018
Hitman will open & will go great
— Raman Sahu (@Ramansahu45) December 25, 2018