India reversed their decision Wednesday to rule out top spinner Ravichandran Ashwin from the fourth Test against Australia, while pace spearhead Ishant Sharma was mysteriously missing from their 13-man squad.
Foxtel Sports and Kayo Sports will live stream the final Test for the Australian viewers.
While Ashwin had played on in Nottingham and Southampton (despite a groin injury as revealed by the team management only at the Oval), he has already missed two Tests - in Perth and Melbourne - in the on-going series.
With the Sydney track expected to assist the spinners, the absence of Ashwin from the squad can be a big impediment for India to go ahead and clinch the series.
Josh Hazlewood struck with his third delivery but India otherwise defied Australia's pacemen early on day one of the fourth Test, reaching 1-69 at lunch.
"He's very important for sure". Fast bowler Umesh Yadav was named as his replacement. What seemed likely, from what Kohli said, was that Vihari would return to his No. 6 position while KL Rahul came into the XI in place of Rohit Sharma, who is back home to spend time with his wife and newly-born daughter. "He is very disappointed that he's not able to recover in time", Kohli elaborated.
This is on assumption that regardless of Ashwin's fitness, India will opt to play four bowlers, whether in a two-pacer-two spinners or three-pacers-one-spinner combination.
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Additionally, this 13-man shortlist can also be seen as a ploy to keep Australia guessing, for the hosts made a departure from norm and decided not to name their playing eleven for the first time in this series.
Lokesh Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (w), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.
The counter to that argument would be the preference to go "horses-for-courses" under the Kohli-Ravi Shastri regime; Kohli did go 38 Tests without naming an unchanged XI before the Southampton Test during the tour to England.
Now then. It's been all but confirmed that Marnus Labuschagne will bat at No3.
The hosts' top order has largely failed to fire and the odds are mounting that the underperforming Aaron Finch will either be pushed down or axed, with number three Usman Khawaja moving up to open alongside Marcus Harris. "We know how good a player of spin he is".
They are contemplating changes to the batting line-up however as Aaron Finch could be sacrificed or drop down the order and Mitch Marsh could also make way with Peter Handscombe and Marnus Labuschagne candidates to come into the side with the latter's spin being an attractive option to Paine.
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