AUS vs IND: Rohit Sharma opens third test against Australia, Navdeep Saini debuts

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India announced on Wednesday that Rohit Sharma will open the hitting in the third Test against Australia in Sydney. India also announced that they will play XI for the Test to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with Rohit Mayank replacing Agarwal in the openers’ slot and Navdeep Saini making his debut, taking the place of injured Umesh Yadav. The rest of the line-up stayed the same as the Melbourne Test. Rohit was added to the squad for the final two tests after completing his quarantine in Sydney. He was also named the vice captain for the remaining two games.

Rohit, who missed the limited-overs series and the first two Tests due to his rehabilitation after an injury sustained during the Indian Premier League, didn’t make contact with the rest of the team until the end of December 2020.

He is replacing Agarwal, Rohit’s batting partner for India’s home tests in 2019, after Agarwal returned scores of 17, 9, 0 and 5 in the first two tests.

Saini will now wear the Test cap for the first time as he replaces Umesh Yadav, who sustained a calf muscle injury while bowling in the second Test and was excluded from the series.

In the absence of Umesh and Mohammed Shami, who were injured in the first test, India will have two inexperienced pacers in Siraj – who made his Test debut in Melbourne – and Saini.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah are the experienced bowlers in the XI and Ravindra Jadeja is the all-rounder.

Rishabh Pant will remain the wicket-keeper as he returns to the venue where he scored his first and so far only Test 100 in Australia.

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari occupy the middle order, while Shubman Gill will most likely join Rohit as the other opener.

Skipper Rahane left the decision on the fourth test in Brisbane to the BCCI and team management, saying, “Our focus is on winning the Sydney Test.”

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India had expressed concerns traveling to Brisbane for the fourth test due to further movement restrictions as part of COVID protocols.

India XI for third test: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini

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