Rohit Sharma is likely to fly to India soon to be with wife Ritika who is expecting their first child this week. It’s not clear whether Sharma would miss the third Test, set to start in Melbourne on December 26. Sharma is not playing in Perth after jarring his lower back while fielding in the Adelaide Test and is undergoing treatment.
Meanwhile, Mayank Agarwal and Hardik Pandya have been picked for the remaining two Tests in Australia. Agarwal has been called as a cover for the injured Prithvi Shaw, and with KL Rahul and M Vijay struggling so far in the series, it’s increasingly likely that the Karnataka batsman might open in that game.
Pandya, rated highly by the team management for the balance he provides to the team, was expected to join the team once he proved his fitness, which he did by turning an all-round performance in the Ranji Trophy game against Mumbai.
The Indian Express understands that selection committee chairman MSK Prasad, who is with the Indian team in Australia, was intimated by physiotherapist Patrick Farhat on Monday that Shaw’s injury will take more time to heal.
Agarwal has been prolific on the domestic circuit for the past few seasons and though he received a Test call-up during the home series against the Windies, he didn’t get to play. Agarwal was playing a Ranji Trophy game in Surat when he got a call from the national selection committee to pack his bags and board the flight to Melbourne. The Indian team will have a week’s gap before the third Test and the selection committee felt sending Agarwal and Pandya early will give them ample time to prepare.
“I’m really happy with my selection. A good series is going on and to represent India is always a delight. Honestly, I was playing Ranji Trophy and my focus was completely on that, I take things as they come. When I was playing here for Karnataka, my main aim was to win for my state. When I will fly to Australia to represent India, my main goal will be to do well for the country,” Agarwal told this newspaper.
Before he featured in the Ranji trophy, Agarwal was in New Zealand with India A. In the three innings he played there, he had scores of 65, 42 and 42.
Agarwal says he has been following the Test series and will have to be fearless and disciplined to succeed there. “Discipline will be important once you travel to Australia. Go there and be fearless and be calculative. Four to five days is enough time to prepare, we have been playing a lot of cricket and are in the middle of the series. We have played a lot of games in the off-season and have been playing lot of India A games as well.”
The selection committee decided to send Pandya after he proved his match fitness in Ranji Trophy. He scored 73 runs and took seven wickets in the match against Mumbai.