Former opener Aakash Chopra has picked his preferred Indian XI for the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground from January 7. He shared this team in a video posted on his Facebook page.
Aakash Chopra started by pointing out India is likely to make a couple of changes for the New Year's Test, with Rohit Sharma coming into the team as an opener being one of them. He began the video by referring to the news that KL Rahul has been ruled out of the final two Tests due to an injury picked up during practice.
"There are going to be two changes in the Indian team. One is Rohit Sharma because he is now the vice-captain of the team and we were waiting for him for a long time. And I feel he should play as an opener," said Chopra.
The reputed commentator observed that, contrary to Sunil Gavaskar's opinion, he wants Rohit Sharma to open alongside Shubman Gill, with Mayank Agarwal making way for the newly appointed Indian Test vice-captain.
"Although Sunil Gavaskar sir believes that Rohit should open with Mayank and Shubman should be sent down the order, I will say that they should not play Mayank and open with Rohit and Shubman because Shubman should be played where he has scored runs," added Aakash Chopra.
While acknowledging the decision might be slightly harsh on Agarwal, Aakash Chopra highlighted the Karnataka opener has not been his former confident self.
"It might be a little unfair to Mayank because his initial numbers were very good and you can get out in the first few matches against a strong opposition. But the confidence is not being seen," stated Chopra.
Aakash Chopra wants the Indian team to persist with Hanuma Vihari at the No.5 spot. He reasoned that the Andhra batsman has performed decently thus far on the tour.
"I will not want to change Hanuma Vihari in the middle. Neither did I want it earlier, nor do I want it now because he has done okay. He had even scored a century in a warm-up game and the last match as well he played a decent although short knock," observed Chopra.
Aakash Chopra mentioned that other than the change at the top of the order and the replacement required for the injured Umesh Yadav, the other nine players should retain their spots in the playing XI.
"So your ten players will be Rohit Sharma with Shubman Gill, then Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj," said Chopra.
"My choice is Navdeep Saini" - Aakash Chopra
"The discussion is still on about who should be played as the eleventh player - Natarajan, Shardul or Navdeep Saini," said Chopra.
The 43-year old pointed out that while Natarajan's left-arm angle might present a novelty factor, his limited experience in first-class cricket will go against him.
"Natarajan has played the least first-class matches and taken the least wickets. The speciality about him is that he is a left-arm fast bowler which gives a different angle. But the first-class numbers suggest it might be a little early. Although he is already 29-years old, he has not played much first-class cricket," stated Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra stated Navdeep Saini has a decent first-class record but his inclusion might give an inexperienced look to the Indian pace attack with Mohammed Siraj also being a new recruit.
"Navdeep Saini has played more than him and therefore taken more wickets as well. He takes almost four wickets a game in first-class cricket. The question is that there is already a young bowler in Siraj and if you want to go with Saini as well," observed Chopra
Chopra highlighted Shardul Thakur is the most experienced of the trio at the first-class level although he was not an initial pick in the Indian squad for the Test series.
"Shardul Thakur has played the most first-class matches among the three fast bowlers but he was also the last to be included in the team. He has 200 wickets in first-class cricket and is a proven performer. He has played a Test match but got injured on the first day and didn't bowl after that," stated Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra signed off by naming Saini as his pick while adding the Indian team could opt for Thakur instead.
"My choice is Navdeep Saini but the team might go with Shardul Thakur," concluded Chopra
The Indian team management might take a call between Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur as their final pace bowling option based on the nature of the pitch. The think-tank might opt for the Mumbai pacer if the conditions favour swing bowling but are likely to go for the lanky quick if it is a hard and bouncy surface.
Published 05 Jan 2021, 23:55 IST