India opted for two changes in the fifth and final Test with Ravindra Jadeja coming in for R Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari making his debut in place of Hardik Pandya. Hanuma Vihari has become the 292nd India player. Selected ahead of Karun Nair, who has been in the squad all this while and whose last innings against England was a triple century, Vihari made the cut on Friday. Jadeja was drafted in as Ashwin was not 100 percent fit since the fourth Test at Southampton. Speaking to the commentator during the toss, India captain Virat Kohli said that Ashwin had aggravated his niggle.
Interestingly, Vihari pipped the experienced Karun Nair to get into the playing eleven. Nair was picked as the first-choice backup middle order batsman. So how Vihari made the cut is yet to be explained by the Indian team management. Karun Nair has scored an unbeaten triple hundred.
Explaining the decisions, skipper Virat Kohli spoke at the toss and said, “One change is forced. Ashwin is out, Jadeja replaces him. Hardik Pandya has been left out and Hanuma Vihari comes in place of him. He is an exciting prospect. He averages close to 60 in first-class cricket. He has worked his way up. It has been tough for the openers in the series. And you gotta respect that.”
“Openers have worked hard, they have looked well too. Just about extending the partnership. We have seen too much of Cook at times. Cook has been a great great player. To get 12,000 runs as an opener in these conditions and all over the world is outstanding. He will go down as one of the greatest openers in Test cricket,” Kohli concluded.