Playing R Ashwin instead of Ravindra Jadeja at SCG will be a risk
The off-spinner is fighting to be fit for the final Test, as he continues his recovery from a left abdominal strain that saw him miss the second and third Tests
Ravichandran Ashwin was the only Indian player that ventured out to the Sydney Cricket Ground on the first day of the year. It was an official off-day for all the team members, but Ashwin spent close to an hour bowling in the indoor nets. He was accompanied by physio, Patrick Farhat, who constantly monitored his progress during the session.
The off-spinner is fighting to be fit for the final Test, as he continues his recovery from a left abdominal strain that saw him miss the second and third Tests. While Ashwin seemed to bowl unhindered, he did leave the training session with an ice pack around the affected area.
It will be a huge risk to play Ashwin, given India lead the series 2-1 and the fact that Ravindra Jadeja had a decent outing picking up five wickets in India's 137-run victory in Melbourne.
The left-arm spinner posed a big threat to the Australian left handers by continuously pitching the ball into the footmarks outside their off-stump. The weather here has been warm over the past week and the trend is set to continue during the January 3-7. The ground staff kept the covers on through the morning to ensure the moisture remained intact. The dryness in the pitch could mean India could even think about playing both Jadeja and Ashwin, but it all depends on how Ashwin feels after training today.
His fitness could well dictate who India choose to replace Rohit Sharma. The logical choice will be for Hanuma Vihari to return at No. 6 and reinstate KL Rahul or Murali Vijay at the top of the order.
There is also the option of Hardik Pandya, but with Australia pressurised to level the series, chances are that India will stick to six batsmen and the four front line bowlers. In that scenario, it will be bold call for the team management to pick Ashwin ahead of Jadeja.
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