India coach Ravi Shastri was both combative and confident when he addressed the virtual media conference after the team completed what he went on to call “one of the great comebacks in the history of the game in the annals of world cricket”.
While the team management can pat themselves on the back, they must also prepare for a potentially tricky selection call involving a big name, ahead of the third Test on January 7. India’s regular Test opener Rohit Sharma has completed his quarantine and will be joining the team on Wednesday.
With Umesh Yadav‘s fitness also in doubt, will the team play it safe and just pick Rohit in Yadav’s place and go in with four bowlers? No, according to Shastri. “We will stick to five bowlers,” he said.
“Rohit joins the team tomorrow. We will have a chat with him tomorrow to see where he is placed physically because he has been in quarantine for the last couple of weeks. Also (we’ve) got to see how he feels before we take the call.”
If India play with five bowlers, pacer Navdeep Saini may replace Umesh and Rohit, if passed fit, may replace opener Mayank Agarwal, who has struggled in this series with his technique.
At the post-match presentation, Rahane, when questioned about Rohit, handled it tactfully, saying, “We are excited about Rohit coming back. I spoke to him yesterday and he is also really excited about coming back.”
When India named the team for the MCG Test amidst the gloom of Adelaide, there was a lot of criticism for not picking KL Rahul as the sixth batsman and for picking five bowlers against a brittle batting line-up. But Umesh Yadav’s injury and unavailability in the second innings justified the presence of the fifth bowler, as both Jadeja and Ashwin could bowl long spells and give the pacers regular breaks to remain fresh.
With Rishabh Pant and Jadeja making handy contributions, Rahane is likely to stick with the five-bowler combo.