Gill, Rahul and Pant get ready for Boxing Day; Saha, Shaw to be axed

With Saha and Shaw faltering in the first Test, the team management is likely to look at Pant and Gill as replacements. Also, Siraj may replace injured Shami, while Rahul could come in for Kohli.

ADELAIDE: Following the batting debacle in Adelaide, India have decided to drop wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha and young opener Prithvi Shaw, sources said. Fast bowler Mohammed Shami is also likely to miss the remaining three Tests of the ongoing four-match series against Australia after scans on his bowling hand revealed hairline fracture, it has been learnt.

It is believed that young Shubman Gill, who had a couple of impressive knocks in the warm-up games, would replace Shaw, while Rishabh Pant, who had scored a hundred Down Under during his previous tour, will take the place of Saha. K.L. Rahul and Mohammed Siraj are the two others in fray to enter the playing XI and those would be forced changes due to the absence of skipper Virat Kohli and senior pacer, Mohammed Shami, who is out with a fractured wrist.

Rishabh Pant
Shubham Gill

In the first Test, Shami was hit on the right hand just above the wrist by a delivery from Australia pacer Pat Cummins as the India No. 11 tried to take evasive action. He could not pick the bat due to severe pain and had to retire hurt as India’s second innings folded for 36. A source confirmed IANS, “It looks like he (Shami) will not play the series.” The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is, however, yet to issue a statement on this.

After the match, Virat Kohli had said that Shami was in a lot of pain and was taken to a hospital for scans. “No news on Shami, he’s going for a scan now. He was in a lot of pain and couldn’t even lift his arm. We’ll probably know in the evening what happens,” Kohli had said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

If Shami is ruled out of the series, and with Ishant Sharma already out due to injury, it may open the doors for Siraj. As for Rishabh Pant, former chairman of selectors M.S.K. Prasad told PTI that during his regime, certain plans were chalked out on the Saha-Pant conundrum. “Look, our committee was clear that Rishabh Pant will be our first choice keeper in places like England and Australia. Only when we are looking at matches in India where you don’t need batting after number six most times, you can have a specialist keeper,” Prasad said. “I believe Rishabh has worked on his fitness issues during the past month and looked in good touch during the pink ball practice game. So I would agree with the team management if they give Rishabh a go for the next three Tests,” Prasad said.

As far as Prithvi Shaw is concerned, everything that can go wrong has gone for the young opener, whose technique, temperament and overall attitude towards the game has raised some serious question marks in the corridors of Indian cricket. If sources in the know of things are to be believed, despite his slump in form, Shaw was preferred over an in-form Gill because he had played in the last series in New Zealand and needed to be given at least one more game.

The team management could mull bringing Hanuma Vihari up the order in the absence of Virat Kohli and Prasad, who has seen Vihari from close quarters, feels it won’t be a bad idea to play him at No. 5. “Vihari has a very sound technique and temperament and he can serve this Test team for a long time. In absence of Virat, it would be a great opportunity for him and KL (Rahul) to stand up and be counted,” Prasad told PTI. “I would prefer Vihari batting at No. 4 or 5 in the next few Tests and face the challenge. He is a gutsy boy and I have confidence that he will do well if given the challenge. KL can be a good No. 6 in this series,” the he said.


IndiaK.L. RahulMohammed ShamiRishabh PantShubman Gill