India's all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja catches a ball during a training session in Melbourne. Photo by William WEST / AFP
India's all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja catches a ball during a training session in Melbourne. Photo by William WEST / AFP

Melbourne: India’s chairman of selectors MSK Prasad on Tuesday said all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was ‘absolutely fit’ when picked for the Australia tour. Prasad’s statement comes in the wake of Jadeja’s ouster from the squad for the second Test match held in Perth.

“On the eve of any selection meeting, the selection committee is given a fitness report of all the players. In that report, Jadeja was absolutely fit. So we picked him. After we picked him, he went and played Ranji Trophy also, he bowled 60 overs (against Railways). So there is no question of him being unfit at the time of selection,” Prasad told reporters here.

Last week, Indian team head coach Ravi Shastri had said that Jadeja had a stiff shoulder, due to which a decision was taken to replace him for the Perth Test.

“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,” he had said.

When asked whether he was aware of Jadeja taking the injection before and during the tour, the former wicket-keeper said: “Whenever a health issue comes up, we have a group in which it is being placed. All that is looked after by the physio, and they have very clearly given it in the statement.”

Meanwhile, India’s chairman of selectors included the selection of Mayank Agarwal, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s comeback in T20 squad and Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari’s performance. Agarwal is all set to make a Test debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the third Test against Australia.

“We have called in Mayank Agarwal. He is in good form after India A series so naturally he got selected. And (Hanuma) Vihari’s batting convinced everybody that he has got that sound technique to play,” Prasad said.

“Going by the current form we all know that current openers are not really living up to the expected things. It is really unfortunate but I can definitely say that Vihari is a long-term prospect of Indian Test cricket. He is well equipped,” he added.

After being dropped from India’s T20 squad against West Indies and Australia, former skipper Dhoni has made a comeback in the limited-overs team for their upcoming three-match series against New Zealand. The development came as the All-India Senior Selection Committee announced the national squad for ODI and T20 series against Australia and New Zealand. The omission of the 37-year-old from India’s recent T20I series came as a surprise to many and a lot of cricket veterans had criticised the decision as well.

“With regard to MS (Dhoni), we categorically told that he is going to be rested for those six matches so that we can give more time to Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant. So that is the very reason and now they have played quite a few matches so we thought we should now bring back Dhoni into the squad,” he said.

When asked about Pant’s performance, Prasad said: “With regard to Rishabh (Pant), the intensity in which we are playing right now after this series we want to keep him fresh and give him a break. He will have a very good game time 5 ODIs against the visiting England Lions.” Giving a hint about Pant’s inclusion in the upcoming 2019 World Cup, Prasad said: “Yes, of course, he is definitely part of it.”

“As we are coming near to the World Cup we are left with few ODIs. So more or less it is a core team. We have zeroed on 20 members. Only those 20 members will be figuring from now on,” he concluded.

India and Australia will play their third Test from December 26 to 30 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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