Rohit Sharma and R Ashwin have been ruled out of the second Test against Australia at the new Optus Stadium in Perth from Thursday due to injuries. India have named a 13-man squad for the game, with Ravindra Jadeja as the only frontline spinner.
All five fast bowlers in the squad – Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami & Jasprit Bumrah – who played in the first Test at Adelaide and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, have been included in the squad. Opener Prithvi Shaw remains out of contention as he is yet to recover from the ankle ligament injury he sustained while fielding in the practice match prior to the start of the Test series.
Ashwin has been ruled out due to a left-sided abdominal strain, while Sharma is still undergoing treatment for the lower back injury he sustained while fielding in Adelaide.
The pitch bears a greenish look ahead of the game, clearly indicating that the fast bowlers will enjoy the conditions.
“We’ve just been told make it fast, make it bouncy if you can and run with it. We’re just trying to produce the bounciest pitch we can,” curator Brett Sipthorpe said ahead of the second Test.
Sipthorpe wants to make a surface similar to what was used for the Sheffield Shield clash between Western Australia and New South Wales last month.
That game saw all 40 wickets fall of which only 8 went to spinners.
“We’re pretty much planning for exactly what we had for the Shield game. The feedback we got back from the players was terrific. I don’t think I’ve spent so much time talking to players during a game but we just wanted to garner as much feedback as we could from the players,” said Sipthorpe.
“We didn’t get any negatives from them, they were all really positive about it. We’re pretty much aiming for the exact same moisture content, and we’re hoping for the exact same pace and bounce.”
However, India skipper Virat Kohli was undaunted by the prospect of having to face a green top.
“We get more excited than nervous looking at lively pitches now,” he said in his pre-match media interaction.
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 13, 2018
Given that India played only four bowlers in Adelaide, all of them had to put in extra shifts but perhaps none shouldered the burden more than Ashwin. The off-spinner bowled 34 overs in the first innings and a mammoth 52.5 overs in the second.
Rohit’s comeback to the Test side at Adelaide didn’t go so well. He made 37 in the first innings, getting dismissed when he tried to slog Nathan Lyon but only ended up holing out to the fielder. He added only a solitary run to the total in the second innings before once again being dismissed by Lyon.
As for Shaw, India coach Ravi Shastri had earlier indicated that he might be available for the Perth Test.
“It was heartbreaking to see him go down the way he did but the good thing is he is recovering well. He has started walking, may be if we can get him running by the weekend, that will really be a good sign,” Shastri told Australian radio channel SEN’s Whateley a week ago.
“With youth by his side, he might recover quickly, we will take a call as we go close to Perth,” he added.
With both openers Murali Vijay and KL Rahul struggling to cement a spot in the squad after below-par performances at Adelaide, Shaw may just be given a run in the side when fully fit.
Meanwhile, Australia named an unchanged side for the second Test, with Aaron Finch retaining his spot as an opener and skipper Tim Paine recovering from a finger injury.
India 13-man squad: Virat Kohli (C), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Peter Handscomb, Tim Paine (capt), Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc