Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari are another additions to India’s long injury list on the Australian tour. Jadeja dislocated his left thumb after being hit by a rising delivery from Mitchell Starc in the ongoing third Test match in Sydney. Hanuma Vihari suffered a hamstring tear, which is likely to keep him out of the fourth Test. Vihari continued batting despite his injury in an incredible display of patience and courage on the final day of the Sydney Test match.
Vihari and Ashwin batted together for over 250 balls to save the Test match for India and ensure that the series stays level on 1-1, going into the final Test at Brisbane.
Ravindra Jadeja is ruled out of the last Test match against Australia and will also miss the first two Test matches against England. “Ravindra Jadeja is out of first two Tests against England. He will need 4-6 weeks minimum to recuperate and complete rehab which rules him out of first two Tests,” a BCCI source told PTI.
With Ravindra Jadeja ruled out of the last test against Australia, it will be a huge blow for the visitors, given that they will be deprived of Jadeja’s all round abilities with the bat, ball and on the field. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami have already flown back to India to begin their rehabilitation program after suffering injuries in the ongoing Test series.
Hanuma Vihari’s absence will also be a huge loss to India who do not have many batting options available at their disposal. Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw are the only two batters who can make a comeback into the team.
India do not have many options to choose from to replace their injured all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja. KL Rahul also flew back home after a injury he picked up during training. Virat Kohli flew back home after the first Test as he was granted a paternity leave.
A Test debut for Natarajan or Shardul Thakur?
India might hand a Test debut to either Natarajan or Shardul Thakur to replace the injured Jadeja. This means that India will play four frontline pacers in the final Test including the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini and Siraj. Shardul Thakur is likely to be picked ahead of Natarajan given the amount of experience he has, having played plenty of first class cricket. It would be a dream come true for Natarajan if he is handed his Test debut in the fourth Test after the left-arm pacer made his limited overs format debut against the same opponents earlier in the series.
Kuldeep Yadav to return to the playing XI?
Kuldeep Yadav might replace Ravindra Jadeja and return to the Test playing XI. With Ravichandran Ashwin already in the lineup, it is unlikely that India will replace Jadeja with Kuldeep Yadav and might go with an extra pacer in the final Test. Kuldeep Yadav has not played a single Test match in the past two years.
Team India does not have many options at their disposal. If India choose a bowler to replace Jadeja, that will leave India short on batting as Rishabh Pant will be their last recognized batsman at number six. After Ashwin who comes in at number seven, the tail will be exposed.
Mayank Agarwal or Prithvi Shaw to replace Vihari?
India might call back either of Shaw or Mayank Agarwal in the playing XI to compensate for Vihari’s loss. India still have four frontline bowlers in Jadeja’s absence, however their batting will be reduced to just six batsman because of Vihari’s hamstring injury. If Mayank or Shaw are added to the XI, Rohit Sharma will have to drop down the order and bat at number five or six. This means that Shubman Gill will have a new opening partner in Mayank Agarwal or Prithvi Shaw.
Playing XI: Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, T.Natarajan/ Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj.
Both Mayank and Shaw to comeback into the XI, Shubman to drop down to number four
India might call back their original opening combination for the Brisbane Test. Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw can be expected to open the innings, with Pujara coming in at number three, and Shubman Gill dropping down to number four. Rahane will occupy his regular position at number five, with Rohit Sharma at number six. If India go with this option, they will have just four frontline bowlers in Bumrah, Saini, Siraj and Ashwin.
Playing XI: Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj.