Boxing Day Test: Ravichandran Ashwin's fitness is still a worry!

Updated: Dec 25, 2018, 10:49 IST | Gaurav Joshi

India have made the mistake of rushing Ravichandran Ashwin back on the England tour and it will be a courageous move by the team management to throw him back into the mix unless he is 100 per cent match fit

Boxing Day Test: Ravichandran Ashwin's fitness is still a worry!
Ravichandran Ashwin tosses the ball during a training session ahead of the third Test against Australia in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/AFP

Gaurav JoshiAll eyes were on spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as Team India hit the nets here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday. India coach Ravi Shastri had opened up a can of worms on Sunday, stating that Jadeja was not 100 per cent fit for selection in Perth.

However, Jadeja bowled untroubled and with vigour for most of the session, boosting his chances to be in the final XI of the third Test. Ashwin also looked to be moving freely as he bowled close to an hour, unhindered by the left side abdominal strain he suffered during the first Test match in Adelaide. The off-spinner started a bit gingerly, but as the session progressed, he was clearly putting more body into the delivery. Ashwin's progress was closely monitored by physio Patrick Farhat, the pair constantly indulging in a conversation throughout the session.

While Ashwin's progress is a boost, it still seems highly unlikely he will feature in the Boxing Day Test. India have made the mistake of rushing him back on the England tour and it will be a courageous move by the team management to throw him back into the mix unless he is 100 per cent match fit.

The other positive news for India is that Rohit Sharma looks to have fully recovered from his jarred back. The right-handed batsman has spent the last couple of days batting for a long periods against the new ball. Given the poor form of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, there is a strong possibility that either Rohit or Hanuma Vihari will be asked to open the batting. With Ashwin unlikely, Vihari is poised to hold on to his spot, giving India an off-spinning option.

It is understood that the Indian team management believes it will be a huge risk to throw Mayank Aggarwal straight into Test cricket, meaning either KL Rahul or Murali Vijay is likely to hold on to their spot. From the practice session, it was evident that Vijay is on the outer.

The Tamil Nadu opener spent a long time having a chat with the chairman of selectors MSK Prasad before taking a few throwdowns at the end of the session. Rahul, meanwhile, continued to battle hard in the nets facing in the form Indian pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Rahul's long lifeline could well continue, but who he partners could well be a surprise.

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