India announced their 12-man squad for the first Test against Australia, featuring R Ashwin as the lone spinner. Virat Kohli, who amassed 692 runs when India last toured Australia in 2014, will eye for a solid start in the series opener. The right-handed batsman, who is in supreme form, will be a key factor in India’s performance.
With Rohit Sharma included in the 12-member squad along with Hanuma Vihari, KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, it is quite evident that India will field a top-heavy line-up in the series opener. The pace department will be spearheaded by Ishant Sharma, who will be joined by Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami.
India went down 2-0 last time when they traveled to Australia, as the hosts won two out of the four matches with very small margins. However, this time things are different and Kohli’s men will be a lot confident against a struggling Australian side which is recovering from the ball-tampering scandal earlier in the year.
The Aussie team will be without the services of their two most prolific batsmen in Steve Smith and David Warner, who are serving a one-year ban for their role in the ball tampering attempt against South Africa at Newlands.
However, Ajinkya Rahane feels Australia are still the favorites because of the depth in their bowling attack. “We are not going to take them lightly at all. Yes, they (will) miss Steve Smith and David Warner but I don’t think they are vulnerable. You see their bowling attack, they’ve got a really good bowling attack, and I think to win Test matches, you need to have a really good bowling attack. So I feel that Australia are really still the favourites,” the India Test vice-captain said on Tuesday.
India 12-man squad for 1st Test: Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah