Fit-again Rohit returns for third test vs Australia, Saini to make India debut
SYDNEY: A fit-again Rohit Sharma will replace struggling opener Mayank Agarwal and fast bowler Navdeep Saini will make his test debut for India in their third match against Australia beginning at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
Rohit returns after recovering from a hamstring injury which kept him out of the limited-overs series in Australia as well as the first two tests in Adelaide and Melbourne.
The 33-year-old from Mumbai will partner Shubman Gill at the top after Agarwal's meagre aggregate of 31 runs in four innings made his place in the playing XI untenable.
"We all are really excited to have him (Rohit) back," said Ajinkya Rahane, who is leading India in the absence of skipper Virat Kohli who is out on paternity leave.
"His experience at the highest level matters a lot.
"He had seven-eight (practice) sessions. He came to Melbourne and when our test match got over, he started his practice straightaway. He's been batting really well," Rahane said in a video conference before the playing XI was announced.
Rohit will also be deputy to Rahane.
India have also lost the services of frontline pacers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav through injuries since levelling the series 1-1 in Melbourne.
Saini's debut means Jasprit Bumrah will lead an inexperienced three-pronged pace attack which also includes one-test old Mohammed Siraj.
"We'll definitely miss Umesh and Shami but that gives opportunity to other guys to come and do well at the highest level," Rahane said, citing Siraj's impressive debut in Melbourne as inspiration.
"It's not about one or two individuals, it's about the bowling unit ... As a team we want to do well.
"I'm really happy for Siraj. The way he bowled in the last game, especially when Umesh got injured in the second innings ... Siraj was really exceptional."
India XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj.