Navdeep Saini is set to make his debut while Rohit Sharma will bolster the batting as India takes on Australia in the third Test which begins at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
India made two changes to their playing XI with Saini coming in for injured Umesh Yadav and Rohit Sharma replacing Mayank Agarwal as opener.
Earlier, Rohit was confirmed as the vice-captain once he rejoined the squad in Melbourne after serving his mandatory quarantine. For the Melbourne Test, Cheteshwar Pujara had been named as Ajinkya Rahane’s deputy. Rahane confirmed in the press conference that Rohit will be opening the batting.
Rohit, who has played 32 Tests, injured his hamstring during an Indian Premier League game in October and only joined the squad last week after coming out of 14 days’ quarantine on arrival in Australia. He has been getting up to speed in the nets and will open alongside youngster Shubman Gill, who keeps his spot after an impressive debut in the second Test at Melbourne.
The four-Test series stands at 1-1.
“We are all really excited to have him (Sharma) back in the team, especially with his experience at the highest level, which matters a lot,” said skipper Rahane.
Rohit’s return is big bonus for India whose batting has been weakened by captain Virat Kohli’s departure for paternity leave after the first Test in Adelaide.
India also have a new-look attack with Saini winning the race to replace Umesh, who hurt his calf in Melbourne and is out of the series. He will bring extra firepower alongside Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj, with regular spearheads Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma both out of the series injured.
David Warner and uncapped Will Pucovski look highly likely to open the batting for Australia even as skipper Tim Paine was not able to confirm the team on the eve of the match.