Australia vs India 2018-19, 4th Test: Probable changes in India's Playing XI for Sydney
The final Test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia will begin at the Sydney Cricket Ground from 3 January 2019. The Indian team won the first Test at Adelaide by 31 runs, and then suffered a 146-run defeat in the 2nd Test at Perth. However, in the 3rd Test at Melbourne, the visitors came back strongly to win by 137 runs.
The Indian team is up 2-1 in this four-match Test series going into the final match. It follows, then, that the Australians can't win the series any more, and thus the Indians have already ensured that they will be retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which they had won by beating the Aussies 2-1 in 2017.
Although the Indian team has already defended the trophy, this Sydney Test still holds great significance in the context of Indian cricket history. If Virat Kohli's men are able to win or at least draw the Sydney Test, then they will become the first Indian Test team to win a series in Australia - a gigantic achievement by any standard.
However, going into the Sydney Test, the Indian team is facing quite a few injury issues. As a result, they will not be able to field their best XI.
The 13-member squad that the team management has declared for the match is as follows:
Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav and R Ashwin.
Although the playing XI is not yet decided, the team will definitely miss the services of Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma, who are unavailable because of injury and personal exigency respectively. Ashwin's fitness is also under question, and most probably he will also be sitting out of the team.
Here, we take a look at the possible changes in the playing XI for India in the upcoming Sydney Test.
#1 KL Rahul in place of Rohit Sharma
This is a forced change. Because of Rohit's unavailability, KL Rahul will likely be back in the playing XI, in spite of his poor form in this series.
If Rahul comes back, then there will be an obvious change in the batting order too. Rahul will open the innings with the in-form Mayank Agarwal, and the makeshift opener Hanuma Vihari will return to his normal batting position, at number 6.
#2 Kuldeep Yadav in place of Ishant Sharma
The team management has to take a tough decision about the team's bowling combination for this Test match. They have to choose between a 3-pacers-1-spinner lineup and a 2-pacers-2-spinners lineup.
However, considering the fact that the Sydney pitch is traditionally a spin-friendly one, the visitors are most likely to go ahead with spinner Kuldeep Yadav instead of pacer Umesh Yadav. Moreover, Kuldeep's ability to bowl match-winning spells, unlike Umesh, makes him the favourite to break into the playing XI.