Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja

The Indian team management will be keenly monitoring Ravindra Jadeja's progress leading up to the Boxing Day Test against Australia this weekend as, if fit, the all-rounder could walk into the playing XI in place of Hanuma Vihari.

Jadeja, who suffered a concussion during the first T20 international, also sustained a hamstring injury which ruled him out of the first Test.

However, over the past few days when India were playing the Test match, Jadeja has slowly returned to the nets.

It has been learnt that the senior all-rounder is recovering well but it can't be said with certainty that he will be 100 per cent fit for the second Test in Melbourne starting on December 26.

But if fit, the axe will fall on Andhra Pradesh batsman Vihari, not because of his low scores in the Adelaide Test but purely based on the best combination that Ajinkya Rahane and Ravi Shastri can put on the field.

"If Jadeja gets fit to bowl long spells, then there is no debate at all. Jadeja replaces Vihari on the basis of his all-round skills. Also it gives us an option to play five bowlers at the MCG," a senior BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

Jadeja has 1869 runs in 49 Tests at an average of 35 plus which includes a hundred and 14 fifties. He has struck half centuries in both England Australia on previous tours.

On the other hand, Vihari, in his 10 Tests, has scored 576 runs with a hundred against West Indies and four half-centuries at an average of 33 plus.

There is a school of thought that if pure batting skills are taken into account, then there is not much of a difference between "specialist Vihari" and "all-rounder Jadeja".

With Mohammed Shami already ruled out of the series because of a wrist fracture, India might just be tempted to go in with five specialist bowlers instead of the usual four, which has been their template for years.

Kohli to leave for India today

The Indian team had a scheduled practice session at the Adelaide Oval on Monday but due to steady rain, it had to be cancelled.

With skipper Virat Kohli set to leave for India on Tuesday and the squad travelling to Melbourne, the skipper apparently had a chat with his team on the way forward after the 36 all-out debacle.

Rohit Sharma quarantining in Sydney

Senior batsman Rohit Sharma can start training from January 3 ahead of the Sydney Test. He is currently locked in a hard quarantine in a two-room apartment in Sydney.

Cricket Australia has already flown David Warner and Sean Abbott from Sydney to Melbourne due to restrictions imposed by the New South Wales state government in the wake of another surge of COVD-19 cases.

The BCCI, at the moment, can't shift Rohit in the middle of quarantine.

The other aspect is that CA is still confident of hosting the third Test in Sydney from January 7 as per schedule and in that case, there is no need to shift the senior player to Melbourne as in any case he is not playing the second game.

In case the situation changes and the third Test match is shifted, the BCCI will discuss with CA and take necessary steps.

The fresh outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Sydney has raised questions not just over the fate of the third Test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

No need to move Rohit Sharma from Sydney, he is safe: BCCI

A BCCI official confirmed that while Rohit shall continue to undergo quarantine in Sydney, the Indian board and the team management is constantly in touch with the limited-overs deputy.

"He doesn't need to move from Sydney. He is safe and is in a bio-secure environment undergoing quarantine. While he is alone in his room, the Indian board as well as the team management is constantly in touch with him. If there was any emergency or if we felt that he needed to get out of Sydney, we would. But for now, he is completely safe there," the official pointed.

Asked about the endurance programme that Rohit was handed by the physio when he left for Australia after completing his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy, the official said: "He is being monitored by the physios and he is doing his regular endurance work in his room. It is all about keeping fit and ready for action when it comes to hitting the ground running."

Sydney Test match on track

Cricket Australia on Sunday confirmed that the Sydney Test match between India and Australia remains on track for now despite a fresh COVID-19 cluster in Sydney.

The third Test between India and Australia is slated to be played in Sydney from January 7 while the last Test of the series will go ahead at Brisbane from January 15.

There were reports that Cricket Australia was mulling over switching the third and fourth Test venues. But CA's interim CEO has said nothing of that sort is happening as of now.

"The third Test is more than two-and-a-half weeks away, which provides us with time to assess the evolving public health situation on the northern beaches of Sydney.

We have made no changes to our schedule and our preference remains to play the match at the Sydney Cricket Ground," Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia's Interim CEO said in an official statement.

"Cricket Australia has developed a solid track record of delivery throughout this most challenging of summers and will continue to make appropriate and proportionate decisions in consultation with our biosecurity team, governments, State & Territory Associations, the Australian Cricketers' Association, our partners and venues," he added.

(With agencies)

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in