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India vs Australia: Ashwin Faces Fitness Test, Ishant Ruled out of Sydney Encounter

Cricketnext Staff |January 2, 2019, 10:43 AM IST
India vs Australia: Ashwin Faces Fitness Test, Ishant Ruled out of Sydney Encounter

Sydney: After initial reports that he had been ruled out of the final Test against Australia at Sydney having failed to recover from a side strain, the Indian team management has clarified that Ravichandran Ashwin has been included in the 13-man squad for the game. A final decision on Ashwin's availability will be taken on Thursday morning before the toss.

Ishant Sharma, who has taken 11 wickets in the three Tests of the series so far at an average of 23.81, has been left out of the Test due to a left rib cage discomfort and is currently being assessed. In his place, Umesh Yadav, who played the second Test in Perth as part of an all-pace attack has been included.

Umesh had an underwhelming game, taking just two wickets for 139 runs in India’s defeat.

In the absence of Rohit Sharma, who will miss the Test as he has flown back to Mumbai to be with his new born daughter, KL Rahul has been included in the squad. Rahul has had a miserable series so far, having made just 49 runs in 4 innings before he was dropped for the previous Test in Melbourne.

Middle order batsman Hanuma Vihari was promoted to the opening position and it remains to be seen if he will continue in the role at Sydney.

There is no place for all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who was summoned to the squad midway through the series after he had recovered from the injury he sustained in the Asia Cup.

However, the most confusion surrounds around the status if Ashwin, who suffered a side strain on the fourth day of the opening Adelaide Test, where he claimed six wickets in the match besides making a vital contribution in the lower order and was one of the main contributors to India’s win.

Ashwin missed the last two Tests in Perth and Melbourne and in his pre-match comments, captain Virat Kohli suggested that he hadn’t recovered from the injury that had kept him out.

"It's unfortunate that he's had two niggles that are quite similar in the last two away tours," said Kohli.

"He's very important for sure. In Test cricket, he's a vital part of this team and we wanted him to be 100 percent fit for a longer period to that he can come back to us in the Test format.

"He is very disappointed that he's not able to recover in time."

Left-arm finger-spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who claimed five wickets in India’s victory at Melbourne that gave them a 2-1 lead in the series, is expected to stay in playing XI for Sydney.

If Ashwin isn’t available and India require a second spinner, left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav may come into the equation as India aim to clinch their first-ever series triumph Down Under. They lead the series 2-1.

India’s Squad for SCG: 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

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