India vs Australia Boxing Day Test: Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant and Mohd Siraj named in playing XI


Melbourne: Shubman Gill will make his Test debut when India takes on Australia in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Saturday (December 26, 2020).

The management made four changes to the Melbourne Test XI – while Gill comes in for Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant replaces Wridhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja in place of Virat Kohli and Mohammed Siraj for Mohammed Shami.

Opener Prithvi Shaw had looked out of place as he was dismissed in a similar fashion — the gap between bat and pad — in both the innings and while Shubman Gill was included in his place, bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja comes in for regular skipper Kohli.

The India captain was granted paternity leave to be with his wife Anushka Sharma for the birth of their first child. Rishabh Pant replaced Wriddhiman Saha as he failed to deliver with the bat in the first Test. 

Another question that troubled the visitors was who will replace the injured Shami. T Natarajan had impressed everyone with his bowling skills in the limited-over format but Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini were part of the Test squad and the management decided to pick Siraj.

After a humiliating loss in the pink-ball Test, it will be all about coming back all guns blazing for the Indian unit when they take on the hosts.

If the humiliation of getting bundled out for 36 wasn`t enough, India was handed a confidence-denting blow when pacer Shami was ruled out of the remaining series with a fractured arm.

After India had dominated the first two days of the opening Test, it took a once in a lifetime spell of pace bowling from the duo of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins to turn the table in Australia`s favour. 

However, it is worth noting that Australia has emerged victorious seven times in their last ten outings in a Boxing Day Test and they would surely want to make that 8 in 11. 

Overall, the team from Down Under has won 25 matches from 39 games and posed a major threat to opponents when it comes to playing in Melbourne.

Steve Smith, who had always dreamt of batting in the Boxing Day Test, has a great record in Australian cricket`s biggest annual event. 

The right-handed batsman has smashed over 900 runs with three half-centuries. Smith relished batting in a Boxing Day Test and walking out to bat gives him “shivers down the spine”.

Australia coach Justin Langer had said that he is looking at fielding the same XI for the second Test and that clearly means the Indian batsmen have their task cut out when it comes to handling the hosts` in-form pacers.

India playing XI: Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin and Mohd. Siraj.

Australia`s playing XI: Joe Burns, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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Sagar Biswas

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