Aus vs Ind: India name Boxing Day Test team, Gill to debut

In absence of skipper Virat Kohli, team India will be led by Ajinkya Rahane in the Boxing Day Test against hosts Australia, the visitors announced on Friday. India made four changes in the Playing XI after getting knocked out in the first Test. While Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant will make a comeback, youngsters Shubman Gill and Md Siraj will make their debut in the Melbourne Test commencing from December 26.

Prithvi Shaw who had a distasteful performance in Adelaide got replaced by Shubman Gill at the top of the order. Pacer Siraj came in for the injured Mohammed Shami, who suffered a wrist fracture and has been ruled out of the remaining three Tests Down Under. All-rounder Jadeja, having suffered a concussion and a hamstring injury in the first T20I, recovered fully and bowled with intensity in the nets in the lead-up to the Test.

Pant was roped in place of Saha owing to poor batting, again. Pant is not the most favoured behind the wickets but his warm-up game ton might have worked in favour of him. After the first Test collapse, India needed to boost their batting line up and they did. Pant also has 350 runs from four Tests at 58.33 on India’s 2018-19 tour to Australia and this record held him in good stead for a place ahead of Saha.

Skipper Rahane said in a virtual press conference with ANI, “It’s a proud moment for me to captain India, and obviously it’s a great opportunity and responsibility as well.”

Commenting on Gill’s debut, he quipped, “See the opener’s role not only in Australia but everywhere is really crucial and I don’t want to put any pressure on our openers. Just want to give them freedom so that they can play their game.”

“Having said that as mentioned, openers’ role is very crucial when you get that partnership going it becomes really easy for the coming batsmen. We definitely miss Virat (Kohli), obviously when you have him it’s a great thing so we will definitely miss him as he is not there.”

India XI:

Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav