Perth Test is just the third time India have gone for an all-pace attack
Faith in pace: India have picked Ishant, Bumrah, Shami and Umesh.

At the toss on Friday as the first Test against Australia got underway at Perth’s Optus Stadium, India skipper Virat Kohli revealed that the touring team had chosen to play fast bowlers in their XI.

In came Umesh Yadav and Hanuma Vihari, for the injured R Ashwin and Rohit Sharma respectively.


This speaks of the way India expect the pacy drop-in Perth surface to play, and marks a rare instance of an Indian team not playing a specialist spinner and going for all pace. So rare, in fact, that it is just the third time in India’s Test history that they have played all pace bowlers.

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The previous two instances came at Perth’s WACA Ground during the 2011-12 tour, when Umesh took his first Test five-wicket haul. The second?

At Johannesburg in January this year, when Kohli’s team beat South Africa by 63 runs to end the series 1-2.

India lost at the WACA Ground in 2011-12 by an innings. In that loss, Zaheer Khan claimed two wickets and R Vinay Kumar and Ishant Sharma one each. Virender Sehwag bowled 7.2 overs and claimed the wicket of Ben Hilfenhaus.

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At Johannesburg this year, Bhuvneshwar Kumar took four wickets, Jasprit Bumrah seven, Mohammed Shami six and Ishant three. Hardik Pandya, the seam-bowling allrounder, went wicketless. That Test in January is the last time Bhuvneshwar played in the format.

Umesh’s second five-wicket haul in Tests came against West Indies in Hyderabad last month in the team’s previous Test. After that 10-wicket haul in a three-day win, Kohli hinted that Umesh would get a look-in during the tour of Australia. The 31-year-old did not play the first Test in Adelaide, but has now got a chance with Ashwin injured and the Perth pitch expected to aid bounce and seam.

In 41 Tests, Umesh has claimed 117 wickets at an average of 32.85.

India will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy if they win the Perth Test.

India X1: 1 Lokesh Rahul, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Cheteshwar Pujara, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Hanuma Vihari, 7 Rishabh Pant (wk), 8 Ishant Sharma, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Jasprit Bumrah