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India name Prithvi Shaw, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav in XI for first Test

India name Prithvi Shaw, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav


Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant were left out of the day-night Test

Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin and Prithvi Shaw have been named to represent India in the Adelaide Test. Umesh Yadav will be the third seamer. These were the main questions India were contemplating two days before the Test: whether to continue backing the flamboyant Shaw, whether to play a spinner and persist with the safer option of Ashwin, and which of the wicketkeepers to play. On the eve of the day-night Test, they settled all the confusion by naming the XI.

Shaw had come under pressure with Shubman Gill faring better in the two tour games, in the process impressing the likes of Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, the legends after whom the series is named. However, Shaw was the incumbent opener and showed in one innings out of four in New Zealand that he can be destructive. He scored 0, 19, 40 and 3 in the two tour games, but more than the scores it was his loose shots that worried Gavaskar and Border. It is understood, though, that with a settled middle order in place, India wanted continuity at the top too and went with the incumbent.

Similarly, the incumbent Test spinner – especially with Ravindra Jadeja’s absence due to injury and concussion – kept his place. The last time India chose against Ashwin in a series opener was on Australia’s tour of 2014-15, a move that was criticised for blooding in Karn Sharma, whose lack of experience showed on a pitch where Australia’s spinner Nathan Lyon proved to be the gamechanger.

Reasonable as it is to play Ashwin, this time around, there could have been a case made for not playing a spinner at all in the series opener because in day-night Tests in Australia, spinners have averaged 49 despite Lyon’s superlative average of 25 in these matches. Lyon’s success is perhaps a sign that world-class spinners have a chance to correct these statistics based on a small sample size of seven Tests. There is no doubt that Ashwin and Lyon have been the two premier spinners in Test cricket, followed only slightly behind by Jadeja, over this decade.


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