Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri on Sunday stated that spinner Ravichandran Ashwin remains doubtful for the third Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Ashwin, who missed the second Test at Perth with an abdominal strain, will be assessed over the next couple of days. Furthermore, Shastri said ‘Hitman’ Rohit Sharma has made an improvement and gave a clear thumbs up for Hardik Pandya. “As far as Ashwin is concerned, we are going to take a look and evaluate over the next 48 hours. Rohit Sharma looks good, he has made a very good improvement. But then again, we have to see how he pulls up tomorrow. He looks good as of today. Pandya is fit,” International Cricket Council quoted the coach, as saying.
Pandya, who sustained an acute lower back injury during the Asia Cup fixture against Pakistan in September, was a notable absentee from the first and second Test. The all-rounder’s presence will likely boost the bowling department, where the pacers have been shouldering heavy workload. “It gives you that option. He hasn’t played much first-class cricket though, he has played just one game after the injury. We have to be careful before we actually decide on whether he plays or not,” Shastri added.
Talking about the top-order, which has not been able to cut corners in the series so far, the coach said: “It is a big concern. That responsibility, that accountability has to be taken by the top order. They have got the experience, they have got the exposure over the last few years.” When quizzed if the team management should have picked Ravindra Jadeja for the second Test, Shastri said: “The problem with Jaddu (Jadeja) was that he took an injection four days after coming here. He had a stiff shoulder. So when you look at Perth, he was around 70-80 % fit and we didn’t want to take that risk. The last thing we wanted was for someone to break down after five overs.” A poor batting in the second innings of the Perth Test led India to a crushing defeat against Australia. With the victory, the hosts levelled the four-match series 1-1.
“It is not often will you find that a team is travelling overseas and it is 1-1 in the series with two Test matches to go. The boys know what they can do, what they are capable of and what potential lies again,” he concluded. India and Australia will play their third Test from December 26 to 30 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.