Xtra Time Web Desk: Despite going through a lean patch, KL Rahul can still find a place in the playing XI for the third test against Australia which gets underway at the Holkar Stadium in Indore from March 1. Indian captain Rohit Sharma has come out in support of Rahul who was recently stripped off vice-captaincy.
“All 17 players in the team has a chance. The team will back those who are talented. Stripping vice-captaincy doesn’t mean anything big. He was made the vice-captain because maybe there was not many experienced players at that time. It is not a big thing,” Rohit said in a pre-match conference.
Although Shubman Gill has showcased impressive form recently in both red-ball and limited-overs cricket, it does not guarantee his place in the playing XI. The cricketer from Punjab was one of the six cricketers along with Rohit, who turned up for the optional practice session on Tuesday. Shubman was seen batting for an extended session at the nets and was even seen practicing close catching.
“When we talk about players going through a tough time, anyone with potential will be given enough time to prove themselves. And being vice-captain or not being vice-captain, doesn’t actually tell you anything. At that point in time, when he was the vice-captain, he was probably the senior most. And his removal of vice-captaincy doesn’t mean anything,” said Rohit.
Both Rohit and Dravid face a dilemma whether to give another opportunity to KL. If he does play then Shubman will miss out yet again.
Gill has been in tremendous form across formats. He scored his maiden test hundred in the series against Bangladesh. Ideally Shubman should feature in the playing XI. But KL Rahul cannot be ruled out either given the support shown towards him by both Rohit and Dravid.
The only other dilemma for the Indian team management is whether to persist with three spinners or play an extra pacer in either Umesh Yadav or Jaydev Unadkat. The reason for playing an extra fast bowler is the wicket at Holkar stadium is laid out a red-soil pitch that will offer bounce. Previously both sides have played in spin-dominated tracks where 2 pacers from each team spearheaded the pace attack.
However, with the pitch offering a certain pace and bounce, India might be tempted to go with three pacers. In that case Axar Patel might have to sit out.
India Predicted Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul/Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat(WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj