India vs Australia: Ravi Shastri says opening pair of KL Rahul, Murali Vijay a big concern for team management

There is no guarantee that Rahul and Vijay will retain their places with in-form Mayank Agarwal called up to the squad as a replacement for injured young opener Prithvi Shaw, who has been ruled out of the series.

Agence France-Presse, Dec 23, 2018 09:19:58 IST

Melbourne: Ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin remains an injury doubt for the third Test against Australia, India coach Ravi Shastri said Sunday as he demanded his opening batsmen step up to ease pressure on Virat Kohli.

Ashwin was sidelined with an abdominal strain for the second Test in Perth and was sorely missed as Australia, led by off-spinner Nathan Lyon, won by 146 runs to level the series 1-1.

Shastri revealed Ashwin is racing the clock to be ready for the crunch Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, where the stakes are high in the four-Test series.

"As far as Ashwin is concerned, we are going to take a look and evaluate over the next 48 hours," Shastri said.

India vs Australia: Ravi Shastri says opening pair of KL Rahul, Murali Vijay a big concern for team management

KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have been in bad form in the series so far. AP

Left-arm off-spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is also carrying a niggle, but experienced batsman Rohit Sharma, who also missed Perth after hurting his lower back, is fit again.

"He has made a very good improvement but then again we have got to see how he pulls up tomorrow. But he looks good as of today," said Shastri.

India go into the Melbourne showdown with Kohli and number three Cheteshwar Pujara is fine form, effectively carrying their team during the Adelaide and Perth games.

But the opening pair of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have struggled for runs and Shastri said that needed to change.

"It's a big concern," he said when asked about the failure of the openers to get a big score.

"It's obvious and that responsibility and accountability has to be taken by the top order.

"They've got the experience, they've got the exposure over these last few years to get out there and deliver. It's about how strong you are in the mind."

There is no guarantee that Rahul and Vijay will retain their places with in-form Mayank Agarwal called up to the squad as a replacement for injured young opener Prithvi Shaw, who has been ruled out of the series.

Superstar captain Kohli scored a battling century in Perth but he came under criticism for his sledging and heated exchanges with Australian counterpart Tim Paine.

His animated wicket celebrations were also frowned upon, but Shastri said he didn't have a problem with his skipper.

"What's wrong with his behaviour? As far as we are concerned, he is an absolute gentleman," he said.

Shastri also denied India's morale had taken a hit by losing in Perth after their tense victory in Adelaide — their first Test win on Australian soil in a decade.

"Absolutely not. 1-1 in a series in Australia and we know we had our chances in Perth as well. They're ready," he said.

"It's not often that we've been in a position where we've won one (on an overseas tour). It's 1-1. The boys know what they can do, what they're capable of and the potential that lies ahead."

Updated Date: Dec 23, 2018 09:19:58 IST






Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4027 115
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3778 105
5 Australia 2640 98
6 Sri Lanka 3795 95
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 4756 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 India 8099 261
5 Australia 5471 261
6 New Zealand 4784 252