One change India should make for the Sydney Test
India had a historic victory in the Boxing Day Test. They are now 2-1 up in the series, thereby ensuring they retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy. However, they have now a chance to do what no Indian team have done in Australia ever, win a Test series down under.
With just one match to go, there will be a huge temptation for the Indian team to play safe. There is a possibility that they may play the same team at Sydney which won the Test at Melbourne. The team has seven batsmen, including Rishabh Pant and an all-rounder in the form of Ravindra Jadeja. That gives Indian batting enough solidity and covers for any mini collapse they may suffer on a given day.
However, a defensive mindset can be counter-productive. Even though a draw would suffice, India should approach the Sydney Test as another Test match, unburdened by the weight of expectations weighing them down. They must play to win this Test.
So, the selection of the team for Sydney should be purely on the basis of which set of eleven players can win India the Test, and not which eleven can help draw the Test. If that means, India have to change a winning combination, then so be it.
Sydney has traditionally been a ground that has assisted spin. This is the only Australian pitch where teams have tended to go with two spinners. Of course, a day before the Test, the Indian think tank should do a proper assessment of the pitch. And if they are convinced that the pitch is the usual Sydney pitch which is going to offer a lot of help for spin, then they must consider playing two front-line spinners.
On the basis of his performance at MCG, Jadeja should retain his place in the side. If India retains the same side, Hanuma Vihari will be expected to bowl a lot of overs, especially in the second innings. That will undermine India’s chances of a victory there. So, they should bring in Ashwin if he is fully match-fit by then, and if he is not, then Kuldeep Yadav must be the second spinner.
However, the second spinner in the team should not take the place of any of the three pace bowlers that India have. They have all performed exceptionally well and bring in different dimensions to the game. The second spinner should take the place of one of the six batsmen. It could be either Rohit Sharma or Hanuma Vihari.
Though Rohit may be more accomplished and experienced, he may actually be the one to be excluded from the eleven, given that Vihari formed a decent opening partnership with Mayank Agarwal at MCG in both the innings and India would want this opening pair to continue building on the two good performances.