India’s Probable XI For Boxing Day Test
“Lack of Intent” is what Virat Kohli emphasized after a dismal show in Adelaide, which saw the Indian team bundled out for there lowest Test score in the history, i.e. 36 in the second innings of the first Test to hand the hosts a 1-0 lead 4 Tests of Border-Gavaskar Trophy. After being on the driving seat in the opening two days, India faced the wrath of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, sharing nine wickets between them to dismantle India’s shambolic batting display in the second innings.
The visitors will now look to start fresh, and their approach for the Boxing Day Test would be much more radical. However, things are not looking great for them ahead of the second Test, as skipper Virat Kohli is all set to fly home after he was granted parental leave from BCCI, whereas Mohammad Shami due to a fractured arm, will no longer take part in the series. The absence of these two stalwarts has left the Indian think tank with a lot of concerns.
‘Intent’ is what the Indian batting lacked in the last game, and they would like to tick the boxes sooner before it gets too late. A loss in the second Test would shut down the doors for the visitors to claim the series. So, what XI should they look forward to for the all-important Boxing Day Test, that too, without the services of regular skipper and star batsman Virat Kohli and injury-hit Mohammad Shami? Well, here’s my prediction.
Probable XI For Boxing Day Test
A BCCI source has revealed that Prithvi Shaw is going to get replaced by his Under-19 teammate Shubman Gill. The Punjab lad has shown brilliant temperament in the two warm-up games he played on this tour, where he crossed the fifty run mark twice. After Shaw’s meager returns in the game, scoring 0 and 4 in the two innings, this change was already ringing and we could expect Gill’s test debut. However, it remains interesting to see whether he will open the innings alongside Mayank Agarwal.
In 2018 when this right-hander from Karnataka made his Test debut Downunder, he looked crisp and in total control but hasn’t started in the same manner in 2020. However, Mayank looked resilient in the havoc second innings of the Adelaide Test and will be keeping his place in the XI.
Yes, the bowlers managed to breach through Pujara’s defense in the last game. But, in the absence of ‘King Kohli,’ the right-hander from Saurashtra will be equipped with a heavy workload. He will be the go-yo man for India in crisis, a role which is familiar to him for a long time.
It’s been a while since we have seen Rahul donning the whites. However, after a radiant show throughout 2020 in the white-ball format, the scintillating KL Rahul is all set to make a comeback in the Red-ball cricket and fill the big boots of Virat Kohli. Yes, Rahul has had his share of poor performances in the last 5 Test series he featured, but his current white-ball is beyond exceptional to make him the front-runner for a spot in the eleven. Some BCCI sources also suggest that KL will be opening the innings along with his Karnataka teammate Mayank Agarwal, while Shubman Gill will be batting no.4.
Ajinkya Rahane (Captain)
The vice-captain of the Indian Test side will be the stand-in skipper for the next three Tests in the absence of Virat Kohli. There’s a saying, a quality player embraces added responsibilities, and it would be interesting to see how Rahane will cope-up with both captaincy and his own form, which hasn’t been satisfactory so far.
A BCCI source has revealed that if Ravindra Jadeja is fully fit for the next game, he may be replacing Hanuma in the eleven. However, after a dismal show by the batsmen in the last game, having a proper batsman over an all-rounder would be a better choice. Therefore, I am sticking with Hanuma Vihari in the eleven.
Pant’s inclusion in the side has always been a topic of debate. However, after an unimpressive outing with the bat by Wridhdhiman Saha, he might lose his place to Rishabh Pant, who has already scored a blistering ton in the warm-up game played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. As of now, in all possibilities, this change looks evident.
After a brilliant spell of bowling in the last game, the wiley off-spinner from Tamil Nadu is expected to continue his imperious run of form and trouble the Aussie batsmen yet again.
The commander in chief of the quicks, Jasprit Bumrah, will be leading the charge yet again in the Boxing Day Test for the visitors. He looked a bit rusty in the last game, but no one should underestimate his prowess with the red cherry. Bumrah will be an enormous threat for Aussie batsmen if he finds his rhythm early.
The muscular right-arm quick had a decent show in the last game as he scalped three wickets in the previous game. In the absence of Mohammad Shami, a lot will rely on his performance as well and how he partners Bumrah with the new ball.
Mohammad Shami’s injury has opened doors for rookies Navdeep Saini and Mohammad Siraj to take the third seamer spot in the eleven. Both are yet to make their debut in Test, and this could be their brightest chance to shine. Choosing between the two, I am opting for Mohammad Siraj over Navdeep Saini. Siraj possesses a swift bowling action and also makes the ball skid through to the batsmen. Given his bowling nature, he could be more impactful in these conditions as compared to Saini, who has been struggling with injuries in recent times.
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Time to wrap-up:
In order to keep the hopes alive of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, a win in the Boxing day test is the only thing India would be looking forward to. Yes, the absence of Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami will hurt India’s chances, but they have to remain decisive in their approach and bank upon even in this torrid period.