Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj will make their Test debuts on Saturday as India announced their playing for the Boxing Day Test against Australia, on the eve of the match.
In total, India, which will be led by stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane in the absence of Virat Kohli, have decided to make four changes. Gill comes in to replace struggling opener Prithvi Shaw and is expected to open the innings alongside Mayank Agarwal at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Siraj is a direct replacement for pacer Mohammed Shami who is out of the Test series due to a wrist fracture.
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 25, 2020
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja comes into the side as a replacement for Kohli, who has left for India on paternity leave. Hanuma Vihari has retained his spot in the playing XI and is expected to bat at the No 4 position.
Meanwhile, wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant would be playing at Melbourne in place of Wriddhiman Saha.
India currently trail the four-match series 1-0 after losing the first Test by eight wickets at Adelaide.
India's playing XI for Boxing Day Test: Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.
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After five days of intense Test cricket, the two teams cannot be separated as India pull off something similar to a heist, if the term can be applied in the context of a draw. Five days of facing Smith and Labuschagne’s brilliance with the bat, the pace trio and Lyon bowling as sharply as ever and some hostilities from the crowd, in addition to the spate of injuries and the absence of their talismanic regular captain. If the Gill-Rohit opening stand gave the early impetus, it was the surreal counter-attack by Pant and Pujara that truly turned things around today, with Vihari and Ashwin’s stonewalling efforts in the end while battling physical discomfort the cherry on the cake.India will look to carry the momentum over to the Gabba, a venue that is considered Australia’s fortress, with the series still level 1-1. Given the way Rahane and Co have fought back after the 36 all out debacle, they’ll certainly hope to end the tour on a high. For now, it’s time for me to sign off on behalf of my colleague Shubham!
The visitors need to chase down 407 – which would be the third-highest successful chase in Test history – or, more realistically, bat out around 130 overs to leave themselves a chance of winning this series.
Thakur snared seven wickets and was India's top scorer in the first innings, striking 67 while batting at No 8. He, along with Washington Sundar, pulled the team out of trouble by conjuring a crucial 123-run stand. The partnership eventually played a key role in the team's three-wicket win.