Reports have emerged from the Indian camp that the management could axe Hanuma Vihari to accommodate Ravindra Jadeja, should the latter recover in time for the Boxing Day Test. Vihari posted scores of 16 and 9 in the first Test, but the decision is believed to be tactical, to add more balance.
‘Away specialist’ Hanuma Vihari could find himself out of the team after just one Test as reports have emerged that the Indian management are actively mulling over the option of playing five bowlers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Vihari only managed underwhelming scores of 16 and 9 in the first Test in Adelaide, but the axing, it is believed, will have more to do with the team balance than his own form. The management are reportedly looking at drafting in Ravindra Jadeja in place of the Andhra batsman, should the all-rounder recover fully before the 26th.
"If Jadeja gets fit to bowl long spells, then there is no debate at all. Jadeja replaces Vihari on the basis of his all-round skills. Also it gives us an option to play five bowlers at the MCG," a senior BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
However, also according to the report, while Jadeja is ‘recovering well’, there is no certainty that the 32-year-old will return to full fitness in just over four days’ time. Jadeja sustained a hamstring injury - and concussion - in the first T20I in Canberra, and has since been sitting on the sidelines, vying to recover and make a comeback.
Should the Saurashtra man recover in time, though, he will, most likely, bat at No.6 in place of Vihari. It is not a job alien for Jadeja, who has donned the role many a time in home matches, but executing the job in Australian conditions will be a different challenge altogether.
Jadeja’s inclusion will also mean that India might make as many as five changes for the Boxing Day Test. Shubman Gill, KL Rahul, Mohammad Siraj and Rishabh Pant are all slated to walk in for different reasons, and Jadeja’s inclusion will mean that half the side that got bundled out for 36 in Adelaide will not be present at the MCG.