There are widespread reports in the media that five Indian players have breached the bio-safety protocol in Australia. Apparently, these players visited a restaurant and had an interaction with one of the Indian fans.
The news came out when a particular fan tweeted about the players yesterday. The fan said that he paid the bill of the players, and Rishabh Pant hugged him. The other cricketers on the table were Rohit Sharma, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, and Navdeep Saini.
Although BCCI has denied any breach and that the temperatures of the players are normal, some reports suggest that the five cricketers have been isolated as a safety measure. With the third Test match starting on January 7th, concerns would arise if these players would be available for the game. If they are ruled out, here is how Team India could line-up at Sydney.
Openers: KL Rahul & Mayank Agarwal
Best friends Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul would open the batting in this scenario. If it was not for the incident, we could have seen Gill and Rohit do the honors. However, since Shaw is also a part of the group, Team India has no option but to field the Karnataka duo. That said, it would be a not bad thing if that happens. With the focus shifting elsewhere for the moment, both these men can focus on improving their Test Match form. If they do well, they might as well continue for the last and final game of the series.
Middle-Order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane(C), Hanuma Vihari, and Wriddhiman Saha (WK)
The middle-order will not undergo major changes in this scenario. A few outlets were of the opinion that Hanuma Vihari would get a pink-slip for the third game. However, that looks unlikely now. The big change will be that Wriddhiman Saha would come in place of Pant. Although it would be an upgrade on the wicket-keeping spot, Team India will lose out on Pant’s X-factor in the batting department. Like for KL and Mayank, it will be a good chance for Saha to strengthen his position. If he is at least decent with the bat, he will be a sure shot selection for the final Test.
All-Rounders: Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin
There would be no changes in this department. Both these players are fit and are in fine form too. With the absence of Pant, Jaddu will have a greater responsibility with the bat. Not only will he have to score runs, but the Saurashtra man must also accelerate if necessary. The same is the case for Ashwin. The player must contribute more with the bat, and add steel to the batting unit.
Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and T Natarajan
While Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj would keep their positions, there would be discussions regarding the third spot. There were as many as three options for the same. Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, and T Natarajan were all in the race for the spot. Now that Saini could be unavailable, the limelight will shift to the other two. We feel that Team India must go for the Tamil Nadu boy. He is a hardworking cricketer and offers something different compared to other pacers. Agreed that he is short on experience in this format, but with the kind of form and mindset that he is in, Nattu can indeed make a difference for the team.