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India announced their 12-man squad for the first Test match against Australia on the eve of the match on Wednesday. Star batsman Rohit Sharma has been included in the shortlist and is expected to feature in the match.
India are likely to go with five bowlers, with Ravichandran Ashwin also filling the role of an all-rounder. It leaves a direct fight between Rohit and Hanuma Vihari for the number 6 spot, considering the top five have been confirmed.
Rohit last played a Test match earlier this year in January against South Africa at Centurion. The 31-year-old has since missed the tour England and also the home series against the West Indies.
Vihari, who scored a half-century on debut in England, could miss out considering Rohit's stature – a player who started his Test career with back-to-back hundreds and also his recent form in other formats of the game.
But if the playing condition favours spin with bright sun on five days, Vihari might just beat Rohit to the playing XI thanks to his off-spin.
The absence of injured Prithvi Shaw will give struggling KL Rahul another chance. Shaw, who announced his arrival by hitting a hundred on Test debut against the Windies, injured himself while fielding during the warm-up game.
India's squad of 12 for the first Test: Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravi Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
Team India's 12 for the 1st Test against Australia in Adelaide: Virat Kohli (C), A Rahane (VC), KL Rahul, M Vijay, C Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, R Pant (WK), R Ashwin, M Shami, I Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah #TeamIndia #AUSvIND— BCCI (@BCCI) December 5, 2018
In the warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI, Rohit score 40 while Vihari made 53. Vihari's 13 extra runs and his ability to bowl spin might not be enough to beat his exalted opponent.
Meanwhile, Australia have named the playing XI for the match. In a surprise move, the hosts have opted to give opening batsman Marcus Harris Test debut after axing all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.
Harris will open with veteran Aaron Finch, with Usman Khawaja, whose brother was arrested for allegedly framing a colleague with a fake terror plot, coming at one down.
Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb and Travis Head will complete the top six, ahead of skipper and wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
Pacers Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc will have support from crafty spinner Nathan Lyon.
The first of the four-match Test series at the Adelaide Oval starts Thursday.