Rohit Sharma is all set to return to the Test team as the opener, alongside Shubman Gill, as India on Wednesday announced the squad for the Sydney Test against Australia.
While Rohit has replaced Mayank Agarwal, Navdeep Saini has been handed his Test debut. He has been roped in as the replacement for Umesh Yadav, who returned to India after suffering calf muscle injury during the second Test in Melbourne which India won eight wickets.
Saini’s selection comes as a surprise as heavy speculations had done the rounds that T Natarajan was the frontrunner to replace Umesh. Saini, 28, has so far played seven ODIs and 10 T20Is for India.
“We all are really excited to have him (Rohit) back in the team, especially his experience at the highest level which matters a lot. Talking about his batting, he is batting really well in the nets. He had good 7-8 sessions, came to Melbourne, started practice straightaway when our Test match got over,” said stand-in India skipper Ajinkya Rahane in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
“I think he is batting really well. The last couple of series he has been batting as an opener, so you will definitely see him batting at the top,” he added.
Rohit missed the first two Tests of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy as he was serving his quarantine period in Sydney. He had arrived late in Australia because of a hamstring injury he sustained in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Meanwhile, for Australia, captain Tim Paine confirmed that opener David Warner would play the third Test against India in Sydney after missing out the first two due to a groin injury.
Apart from the two Tests of the four-match series, Warner had also skipped the entire ODI series after picking up the injury during the T20I series against India.
“Obviously with David (Warner) playing and potentially more, there are some conversations that need to be had first. Davey’s been awesome, he brings really high intensity and fills guys around him with confidence,” Paine told the media on Wednesday morning
The series is currently tied at 1-1 with Australia winning the first Test in Adelaide while India registering a win in the second in Melbourne.
India Playing XI: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini.