The Indian cricket team is deliberating a raft of changes in the wake of their disastrous first Test loss to Australia, but former player Wasim Jaffer has sent the team a hidden message with his preferred picks.
The visitors were shellshocked after their stunning second innings collapse, in which they were dismissed for the lowest innings total in Indian Test history.
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An injury to fast bowler Mohammed Shami, who suffered a broken arm, as well as less than impressive displays from opener Prithvi Shaw and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Long-time captain Virat Kohli will also be absent for the rest of the Test series, returning to India to be present for the birth of his first child.
Speculation has swirled around who might be brought into the side, prompting former Indian player Jaffer to send stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane a ‘secret’ message with his take on who should be picked.
Dear @ajinkyarahane88, here's a (hidden) message for you. Good luck for Boxing Day!
PS: you guys are open to have a go and decode the msg too 😉#INDvsAUS #AUSvIND
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) December 21, 2020
Jaffer’s hidden acrostic message read ‘pick Gill and Rahul’, referring to Shubman Gill and KL Rahul.
KL Rahul stands as a strong choice to replace Kohli in India’s middle order, while Gill opened the batting during the ODI series that preceded the Test series.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and bowler Mohammed Siraj are also in the mix to earn a spot in the Test team.
Former captain backs Shubam Gill selection
The Press Trust of India (PTI) is reporting that Saha and Shaw will be dumped for the Boxing Day Test.
Fast bowlers Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini, both yet to start their Test careers, are vying to replace Shami.
Shubman Gill, the 21-year-old prodigy who averages almost 70 at first-class level and impressed Kolkata teammate Pat Cummins during the recent IPL, is expected to make his Test debut at the MCG.
Gill is a top-order batsman but may be deployed at No.6 in a rejigged order, meaning KL Rahul could be recalled to open alongside Mayank Agarwal.
Former captain Sunil Gavaskar, whose name adorns the trophy that Australia and India are competing for, backed the logic of unleashing a revamped top six featuring Rahul and Gill.
"There are going to be two changes in the batting for sure," Gavaskar told India Today's Sports Tak.
"KL Rahul will probably come in for Prithvi Shaw to open the batting.
"At No.5 or No.6 Shubman Gill should come in, his form has been good.
"Things can change if we start well.
"Australia's weak point is their batting.
"Had we held our catches well and had good field placements, there might not have been any problem ... Australia got ahead in the Test because of those dropped catches."
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